Two local schools have been listed among 40 across the north that could be set to close or merge under new Education Authority (EA) plans.
Magheralough Primary School in Trillick, which has just 23 pupils, has been identified among the schools where “sustainability is an issue” within the Fermanagh and Omagh District Council area.
The other school earmarked, St Mary’s High School in Brollagh, already looks set to shut its doors next year. The Council for Catholic Maintained Schools announced in February that St Mary’s, which has a current enrolment of 84, will close with effect from August 31st 2018 or as soon as possible thereafter.
However, the Education Authority says that any decision to close or merge the schools would be subject to consultation.
St Mary’s Principal Michael Quigley recently told this newspaper that the school remains “open for business” and will continue to offer their renowned “first class academic and pastoral provision”.
“The school’s contribution to this community and rural education, cannot be questioned,” he added.
Reacting to the plan, SDLP’s Mary Garrity, a member of Magheralough school’s Board of Governors, said: “We in the SDLP have always championed the importance of local schools such as Magheralough and their vital role within communities. Decisions like this are regrettable especially if it means that pupils will be the ones being penalised. While these proposals are open to consultation there is always a fear for the schools concerned and everyone involved with them. As a school, we will be outlining the many positives that Magheralough PS brings to the local community.”
The Education Authority’s action plan for 2017-18, the first Northern Ireland wide plan for future school provision, sets out a strategy for changes to the number and nature of schools. It points out that Northern Ireland had too many schools, particularly in the primary sector.
Factors used to decide if a school is sustainable or not include its financial position, how many pupils it has, the quality of its educational experience, strong leadership, accessibility and strong community links.
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