Northern Ireland

Sixth form plans might affect shared campus - 15 miles away

Ballycastle High School and Cross and Passion College will both move onto the £38 million site
Ballycastle High School and Cross and Passion College will both move onto the £38 million site

PLANS for a shared education campus might be negatively impacted by allowing a school 15 miles away to open a sixth form, it has been claimed.

Ballymoney High School hopes to introduce post-16 courses next September.

At present, young people must leave the town or scramble for limited places at Dalriada Grammar School if they want to study A-levels.

A new case for change document has said a sixth form would provide a strong, stable and accessible pathway for pupils who would wish to continue their education beyond GCSE and "cement the school's established position as a school of first choice for many".

Ahead of the publication of an official proposal, the Education Authority (EA) received 102 responses - 100 of which were in favour.

The EA said by maintaining the status quo, the only post-16 provision in Ballymoney would remain in Dalriada with primarily vocational courses offered by Northern Regional College.

Given the high retention rate for their own pupils, Dalriada was unable to offer very many places to pupils from other schools, it added.

Post-16 options for the non-selective sector would remain unchanged and pupils would have to travel to Ballymena, Ballycastle, Coleraine and surrounding areas to access A-levels.

A new sixth form would likely also achieve a broad mix of pupils by attracting young people from Our Lady of Lourdes in the town, which also has no post-16 offer.

The EA said it believed the proposed post-16 provision "will have a minimal impact on schools in the wider area".

"The establishment of post-16 provision in Ballymoney High School will have a positive impact on the local area," it added.

"Pupils who previously travelled out of the area for their post-16 studies will now remain."

However, Ballycastle High School has objected claiming there are adequate sixth form spaces elsewhere.

It argued that "plans for the shared campus in Ballycastle could be negatively impacted by the potential displacement of pupils towards Ballymoney from Ballycastle and the surrounding hinterland".

There are plans for Ballycastle High School and Cross and Passion College to both move onto a £38 million site. The single build will encompass shared facilities at the centre and core schools at either side.

The Controlled Schools Support Council has said it supports the Ballymoney proposal.

It added that it consulted with other non-selective schools within the area and "has made note of their concerns".