Plans to merge three west Belfast schools approved
PLANS to merge three post-primary schools in west Belfast have been approved by the Department of Education.
St Rose’s Dominican College, Corpus Christi College and the Christian Brothers School (CBS) will "discontinue" to create a new Catholic co-educational school of around 1,000 pupils in time for the September 2018 term.
Also approved is a proposal for St Louise’s Comprehensive College to become fully co-educational.
The Falls Road college - once said to be the largest girls' school in Europe – will also have its capacity reduced from 2,280 to 1,500.
Department of Education permanent secretary Derek Baker said: “This is an important suite of proposals which collectively will significantly advance departmental policy on sustainable schools and area planning in CCMS’s south and west Belfast and Lisburn area cluster.”
In a letter to parents, St Rose’s principal Grace McCallion said: “CCMS and trustees will continue to work closely with all four schools on the implementation of these proposals, and will commence work with the Department of Education in regards to securing the appropriate investment for the new arrangements.
“Please be assured that the implementation of the proposals will be smooth and successful for the children in our care.”
Similar letters were issued to parents at Corpus Christi and CBS.
The shake-up follows concerns over the number of empty desks in schools across the north.
Grammar schools and two other non-grammars in west Belfast - De La Salle and St Genevieve's - are unaffected.
CBS on the Glen Road, founded in the late 1950s, survived previous plans to amalgamate it with neighbouring St Mary’s Grammar School, when the latter opted to retain academic selection.
Corpus Christi in Beechmount is itself the result of a 1988 merger of four schools - Gort Na Mona, St Thomas’s, St Peter’s and St Paul’s - while St Rose's has been educating girls in the area since 1961.