Tiny Catholic primary has won backing of its area to become mixed... yet still O'Dowd looks set to close it
A campaign by a Catholic primary school for integrated status has overwhelmingly won the backing of its community, the Belfast Telegraph can reveal.
Clintyclay Primary School is seeking approval from the education minister to be classified as religiously mixed.
However, the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools (CCMS) which runs the school has also made an application to minister John O'Dowd – to close the rural Co Tyrone school.
Despite this, a new opinion poll found that almost 80% of the local community support the establishment of an integrated school.
Other key findings revealed:
- That despite a public consultation exercise by the education authorities almost 60% of those polled were unaware of the proposed changes to education provision at Clintyclay
- 72.2% of respondents believe the community should have a say on education provision within their area
- Almost two-thirds support plans to transform Clintyclay from a Catholic maintained to an integrated school.
The findings of the poll by LucidTalk and commissioned by the Integrated Education Fund (IEF) come as the education minister prepares to decide the fate of the tiny rural school, which has less than 30 pupils.
And Mr O'Dowd told the Belfast Telegraph he will make his decision before the January deadline for primary school applications for 2015 to give clarity to parents with children due to start P1.
The LucidTalk poll surveyed more than 500 parents living in the Clintyclay, Loughgall and Dungannon areas, a 12-mile radius of the school.
Almost half of those who participated in the poll described themselves as Catholic and 30% as Protestant and 68% were in the 25 to 44 age bracket. The findings have been welcomed by the Integrated Education Fund (IEF).
"These results reflect the successive Northern Ireland-wide opinion polls of recent years: the majority of parents want the option of integrated education for their families," said IEF chief executive Tina Merron.
"The poll shows this to be true across the whole local community in the Clintyclay and Loughgall area.
"Clintyclay Primary School is pioneering in being the first Catholic maintained school to pursue transformation to integrated status but the action group is proceeding fully confident of local support."
Ms Merron also criticised the department's public consultation exercise on the future of Clintyclay after it emerged just 43% of those polled were aware of the proposed changes.
"It is striking that the majority of those responding to this survey were not aware of the proposal to transform Clintyclay Primary School, and many people commented that they wanted to be involved in decisions about education provision," she said.
Every school has a management type, such as controlled, Catholic maintained, voluntary grammar or integrated.
If a school wants to change its management – in the case of Clintyclay a transformation from Catholic maintained to integrated – it must submit a development proposal to the local education and library board. After a public consultation, the education minister decides whether or not to approve the change.