Belfast Telegraph

Revealed: List of Northern Ireland schools which may close or merge over sustainability

By Michael Sheils McNamee

A new action plan from the Education Authority has identified 27 schools which could be set to close or merge due to sustainability issues in 2018/19.

The performance of schools is laid out in the document from the non-departmental body, which identifies areas of weakness and actions schools should take.

It adds to around 40 schools identified in last year's document. 

"Sustainability issue" are identified for 27 schools, with the document aiming to advance the ministerial objection of addressing "school provision where sustainability is an issue".

The Education Authority's action plan states any action to close or merge a school would first be subject to consultation.

Besides sustainability, a range of other issues and areas of improvement are identified across 76 schools in 10 wider areas.

These includes:  ensuring school places are located as required, establishing specific supports for autism, and developing sustainable Irish medium provision.

“In many areas of Northern Ireland there are too many school places for the size of the population, while in other areas, there are not enough places," said Education Authority director of education John Collings.

"It may also be the case that there are not enough school places of the right type – perhaps demand for integrated or Irish medium education isn’t being met in a particular area.

“Area planning seeks solutions to these issues to ensure all pupils have the opportunity to fulfil their potential."

The plan has been produced by the Education Authority in partnership with the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools (CCMS), Comhairle na Gaelscolaíochta (CnaG), the Northern Ireland Council for Integrated Education (NICIE), the Controlled Schools’ Support Council (CSSC), Governing Bodies Association (GBA), and the Catholic Schools’ Trustee Service.

The Education Authority's document lists each local school, with the key issue for that institution and the action which should be taken.

In the list the key issue for 25 schools makes specific reference to sustainability.

It is possible sustainability issues may exist where other key issues are listed, such as "ensure school places are located as required".

Asked by the Belfast Telegraph specifically about the disparity between the 25 and its figure of 27, the Education Authority sent the following statement: “Almost one-third of the work streams for primary and post-primary relate to sustainability issues across 27 named schools and 3 areas.  Overall, there are 76 schools named in the plan and 10 wider areas identified.

"The Annual Action Plan includes schools where sustainability is now an issue but, also, includes some schools which are sustainable as it is these schools that may form part of the solution to sustainability issues in the area.”

The following schools have this year been identified as having sustainability issues:

Antrim and Newtownabbey - Primary

Straid PS

Tír na nÓg PS

St Macnissius’ PS

Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon - Primary

Derryhale PS

Mullavilly PS

Foley PS

St Michael’s PS (Clady)

Causeway Coast and Glens - Primary

Barnish PS

Ballyhackett PS

Causeway Coast and Glens - Post-primary

Coleraine College

Dunluce HS

North Coast IC

Fermanagh and Omagh - Primary

St John the Baptist PS

Lisburn and Castlereagh - Post-primary

Laurelhill CC

Lisnagarvey HS

Mid Ulster - Primary

Ballytrea PS

Coagh PS

Stewartstown PS

Desertmartin PS

Mid and East Antrim - Primary

St Brigid’s PS

St Colmcille’s PS

Fourtowns PS

Groggan PS

Longstone PS

Upper Ballyboley PS

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