Brollagh turns to integrated model to stave off closure

BROLLAGH secondary school has signalled its intention to change its status to integrated education. However, this has not been supported by education officials.
Last April the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools (CCMS) confirmed its plans to proceed with a proposal to close St Mary’s High School, Brollagh from 31 August this year, or as soon as possible thereafter. This is the fourth attempt in the past decade to close the doors of the school.
Guidelines outline that “sustainable schools” have a minimum of 500 pupils in years 8-12, an enrolment figure well in excess of Brollagh’s current enrolment of 343 pupils.
Expressions of interest were sought from primary schools with 51 responses from parents to indicate that they would enrol their child there if transformation to integrated took place.
This week a public development notice was published confirming that an application had been submitted by St Mary’s to “transform” to controlled integrated status. The Education Authority (EA) has not indicated support, stating that 51 expressions of interest “would not greatly improve sustainability” of the school.
Another issue raised by the EA was the religious balance. “The integrated ethos is about equal number of Catholics to Protestants and we note that the proposal is an initial 90/10 split.”
The parents council for St Mary’s alerted locals to the public consultation and called on “all within the community to submit your letters of support”, the post continued, “Have your say and let’s start a new beginning”.
Local MLA Jemma Dolan voiced her support for the school’s bid to change to integrated status.
“CCMS have submitted several development proposals for closure; dating back to before I left the school in 2007. Thankfully, due to strong community campaigns, we have managed to fight it.”
Ms Dolan encouraged people to respond to the consultation and also drew attention to what some felt was an “obvious solution” that was a cross-border model with Ballyshannon but different curriculum and circumstances has meant this has not come to fruition.
“Having an integrated model would ensure the continuation of the high quality of education currently being provided by the school, as well as providing the opportunity for all young people living in the local area to be educated locally together regardless of faith or community background.”

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