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Foyle College move marks end of non-Catholic secondary education on Derry's cityside

Foyle College on the new site in Derry. Picture by Margaret McLaughlin

PUPILS at Foyle College have begun moving into their new school - marking the end of non-Catholic secondary education on Derry's cityside.

The grammar school is re-locating into a multi-million pound new building on the former Clooney army base.

An overhaul of secondary education in the city over the past few years has seen pupils of different faiths being schooled on opposite banks of a river.

A series of closures, mergers and relocations mean that Derry's Cityside is now home to every Catholic post-primary in the city.

Every non-Catholic school has deserted that area and crossed the River Foyle to settle on the Waterside.

There were originally two Waterside Catholic secondaries - St Brecan's Boys' and Girls' - which became the single St Brecan's High. It changed its name to Immaculate Conception, which was later shut down.

Meanwhile, on the Cityside, where once there were numerous non-Catholic post-primaries, there are now none.

Londonderry High School, which itself was created by a two-school amalgamation, merged with Foyle College to become Foyle and Londonderry.

The state-controlled Templemore Secondary School shut down in 2003.

St Mary's College now stands on the former Templemore site.

Templemore's closure left Foyle as the last non-Catholic school on the Cityside.

Foyle is a predominantly Protestant but non-denominational grammar school. About one in five pupils there are Catholic.

Pupils had been split across two sites on Northland Road. Yesterday, junior school pupils were the first to move into a new multi-million building Senior pupils will join them later in the week.

Teachers and staff have been on site already in preparation for the new term.

The £31 million site includes 25 acres of grounds, a building capable of taking up to 850 pupils, a music suite and sports hall.

Robin Young, chairman of the board of governors, said it was an exciting time for the school.

"To have the school on one site is a first for many years for Foyle and certainly the staff will appreciate not having to move between the old junior school and the senior school two or three times a day as was the case before," he told the News Letter.

"It's a long time coming and it really opens up the cityside, our existing sites for the expansion of Magee. It will support that as well."

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