Education news

New Mournes school inviting admissions for first P1 intake

St Joseph's PS in Ballymartin is one of three schools involved in the merger

A NEW primary school is inviting applications from prospective P1 pupils, although it remains unclear where it will be located.

Three Catholic schools that serve the parish of Lower Mourne in Co Down are to merge at the end of the academic year.

It is planned that St Joseph's in Ballymartin, St Mary's in Glassdrumman and Moneydarragh PS will amalgamate on a new site and in a new building to accommodate up to 205 children.

Former education minister John O'Dowd approved the move, saying enrolments at the schools were insufficient to justify all three continuing on a stand-alone basis.

Amalgamation, he said, would ensure the most effective use of resources, in turn delivering better educational outcomes for young people.

The name of the new school has still to be agreed.

However, the interim board of governors has taken out a newspaper advertisement saying it welcomes admissions from parents of prospective P1 children starting in September 2018.

"At this point there are arrangements being made for operating the new amalgamated school on one or more of the current school sites and until a final decision is made, we are unable to have an open day at present," the governors said.

"Work to progress the new school build is continuing alongside the amalgamation. A new school will provide a state-of-the-art, modern environment that will meet the demands of the modern curriculum and provide the best educational experience for the children, parents and wider community of Lower Mourne."

The original recommended option was that the three schools would be amalgamated into one on a new site in Seaview Heights in Ballymartin.

However, a group supporting the retention of education in the Moneydarragh area said it was best placed to be the central hub.

The sites to be used will be determined by the interim board in agreement with the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools (CCMS).

Children attending any of the three existing schools will automatically transfer.

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