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CCMS deny plans are set up to underpin selection

‘Too early to speculate’

By Staff Reporter

It is too early to speculate which North Belfast schools may face closure or merger as a result of the recommendations published this week, a leading figure in the Catholic Council for Maintained Schools (CCMS) has said.

Northern Ireland Council for Catholic Education’s report into post-primary education in the North recommended that North Belfast should have four 11-19 schools, with at least two of them being co-educational.

Currently there are seven post-primary schools in the area, including St Gemma’s High School in Oldpark, which the report has recommended for closure in September 2012.

The recommendation of four schools could see the closure or amalgamation of three more schools.

Speaking after the publication of the Post-Primary Review of Catholic Education this week Gerry Lundy, deputy chief executive at the CCMS, said it was too early to speculate on whether the two grammar schools in the area, St Malachy’s College and Dominican College Fortwilliam, would be retained.

The other schools potentially affected are Our Lady of Mercy Girls’ School, Little Flower Girls’ School, Edmund Rice College and St Patrick’s College.

He also said the recommendations in the report were not designed to underpin academic selection at 11-years-old.

“To speculate on any school would be inappropriate,” Gerry Lundy told the North Belfast News yesterday (Wednesday).

“We have seven schools in North Belfast and we are saying we think there should be four.

“It is important to state that we are going to complete a detailed business case to find out how we establish these schools and where they will be located.

“Also, we have a very significant resource of staff providing a very good service for pupils in the area. We need to plan this very carefully, maximising opportunities for staff currently employed in the existing schools.”

When asked if the recommendations were designed to underpin academic selection he said they were based “on a transition away from academic selection”.

The report says that NICCE “continues to support a structured transition from academic selection at age 11 as a means of admission to any of their schools. This will allow the Catholic community of schools to move away from the use of academic selection in a planned way, consistent with a shared strategic vision for each area.”

The report was published during half term making it difficult for schools to formulate a response. Next week’s North Belfast News will carry further reaction.


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