Collegiate supporters vow to fight on despite setback



The Collegiate will not give up the fight and will ‘robustly’ challenge their proposed amalgamation with Portora Royal School. Speaking directly after Thursday’s meeting Neville Hale from the Collegiate deputation said he felt ‘betrayed’ by Devenish College who he claimed had ‘sacrificed the Collegiate’ to gain their new build by backing the proposed amalgamation.

“We’re disappointed by that, we’re not surprised by the decision that has been taken by the Western Education and Library Board, we have a lack of faith in that organisation and how it has conducted itself.”

Speaking to the Herald yesterday Enniskillen Collegiate principal Elizabeth Armstrong stated that the decision to push on with proposals she believes have little community support is “deeply concerning and frustrating, but not unexpected.”

“Our determination to oppose these proposals remains. We have a strategy in place to challenge this process robustly in every direction and at all levels as we move to the next stage. “We have been greatly encouraged by the strong support from our parents and the wider community for our position in demanding a fair and inclusive way forward and we will continue to build on this strong position, confident that it commands community support.

“We make no excuse for the passion with which we will fight for the future educational provision in our sector: It is however a passion backed up by clearheaded conviction and appraisal of the realities in the situation.”

Miss Armstrong questioned the merits of the decision made by WELB.

“The WELB justified this decision as a strategic one which is in the interests of all the young people of the County and which will allow the development of two sustainable schools for the future. However, if this decision is allowed to stand we will have a potentially disastrous situation where the likelihood of any new build for either school will be scuppered by the fact that the numbers will not stack up. Devenish College and Portora signed up last Thursday to the scenario where Devenish College will have to increase from their current enrolment of 538 to 800 before any new build materialises while the steady haemorrhage of pupils who currently choose an option outside the controlled sector or outside the county if they do not gain access to the Collegiate or Portora will only increase with the reduced intake of the new grammar school.

“Closing the Collegiate, reducing the number of grammar school places and limiting parental choice will bring our community and our young people no closer to the much needed and long denied investment in our sector.”