CCMS give local schools more time to work together

St Fancheas College
THE proposed restructuring of four Fermanagh Catholic post-primary schools will take a little longer than anticipated, after the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools (CCMS) gave the schools “time to work together on a way forward.”
Proposals to “close and expand” St Fanchea’s and St Joseph’s, with staff and students joining Mount Lourdes and St Michael’s, was strongly opposed, with the schools expressing concerns they would lose their identities and staff would not be accommodated adequately in the new arrangement. 
A consultation was opened on this proposal, with the other option being to merge the four schools into two single-sex schools, earlier this year. Following the opposition to the close and expand option, the CCMS Trustees last week announced they would give the schools more time to work together on finding a way forward. 
Una Lilley, chairman of the Equality for St Fanchea’s campaign group, said they were happy with the response, stating it “shows they were listening to us” and that the CCMS “acknowledged the thought, time and effort of all the hundreds of parents and pupils who participated in their consultation.”
“The concerns of parents, pupils and staff members have clearly been heard by the Trustees,” Ms Lilley continued. “As a campaign group we welcomed the Trustees’ commitment to end the socially divisive and unfair practice of academic selection, but we were highly concerned that proposals to achieve this through a ‘closure and expansion’ approach instead of a ‘merger’ would risk creating an educational underclass, reinforce disadvantage and undermine outcomes for all.”
A spokesman for the CCMS told the Herald from their consultations, they believed allowing a period of “time to work together toward their objective” was the best option. They said the key now was collaboration between the schools. 
“We want them to work together on a way forward and on forming a firm foundation for the future,” they said. 
Ms Lilley said this afforded them more time, which was  “much more positive” and “the best we could’ve hoped for”, and added they were fully committed to working collaboratively with all stakeholders, and encouraged staff, parents and pupils to engage in the process.”


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