Northern Ireland news

Three schools hoping to join integrated sector

Ballyhacket PS in Co Derry

TWO small Catholic primary schools are hoping to re-open as integrated - but the change will not happen this year.

Proposals have been re-published this week on behalf of three schools who are seeking to transform to controlled integrated status.

No Catholic school has ever switched.

A small number of ballots have been held at Catholic schools but just one - at Clintyclay PS in Tyrone - led to an official bid.

That proposal was turned down, however.

The Irish News last year revealed that two Catholic schools – Seaview PS in Glenarm and Ballyhackett PS in Castlerock – favoured transformation.

Both are also fighting closure plans brought forward by the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools (CCMS).

If approved, the schools would effectively close and be re-opened under new management.

Ballyhackett has a tradition of educating children of different faiths.

It remains hopeful a proposal to allow it to offer an integrated option for parents in Castlerock, Coleraine and Magilligan will be considered.

It wanted to become integrated in September this year. But the deadline for objections has been pushed back to mid-September due to the Covid-19 outbreak. Change is likely to be delayed, therefore.

Seaview PS was one of three schools in the Glenarm and Carnlough area identified as having sustainability issues.

CCMS said it would close in August 2021.

A ballot of parents overwhelmingly supported the school joining the integrated sector.

The small primary boasts a mixed enrolment and is expecting numbers to increase substantially over the next three years. Numbers jumped last September from 42 to 66 after the integrated plans were first brought forward.

The third school, Carrickfergus Central PS, would also transform in September 2021, subject to ministerial approval.

There are delays expected in the development proposal process due to Department of Education staff tackling coronavirus.

Permanent Secretary Derek Baker warned the assembly education committee that much of the day job would have to cease.

A separate transformation proposal was published on behalf of St Mary's High School in Brollagh, Co Fermanagh earlier this year. It too is hoping to transform by this September.

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