Carrick principals back merger

Jackie Stewart
Jackie Stewart

The principals of two Carrick schools earmarked for a proposed amalgamation in 2018 have spoken out in favour of a merger.

A consultation is currently being carried out at Downshire School and Carrickfergus College by the Education Authority.

Hedley Webb. INCT 51-655-CON

Hedley Webb. INCT 51-655-CON

Both schools have been asked to take part in a review of controlled post-primary education provision locally.

At last month’s meeting of the Education Authority’s Education Committee, it was agreed to initiate consultation with the schools and with the trustees and managers of other schools likely to be affected by the proposal to establish a new controlled non-selective post-primary school in Carrick for 1300 pupils, with an admission number of 210.

Currently, Carrickfergus College, at North Road, is operating at 76 per cent capacity, and Downshire School, at 68 per cent.

A joint statement issued by Jackie Stewart, principal of Downshire School and Hedley Webb, principal of Carrickfergus College, said: “The governors and principals of Carrickfergus College and Downshire School are in support of the proposal to amalgamate the two schools by September 1 2018.

“They hope that this will lead to the building of a brand new post-primary non-selective school for the town in the near future.

“Mrs. Stewart and Mr. Webb wish to reassure all prospective pupils for September 2017 that the existing two schools will continue to provide the same quality of care and support for all pupils until such times as a merger may take place.”

The Education Authority has pointed out that neither school can accommodate all pupils from both schools, so there is a “strong possibility that this will initially be on a split site”.

However, the Authority has stated that this arrangement will be a matter for an interim board of governors.

The Education Authority has also stated that one fifth of parents choose to educate their child outside Carrickfergus.

Currently, there are 667 pupils enrolled at Carrickfergus College and 511 at Downshire.

It has also been noted that provision in Carrickfergus Grammar remains “high” and Ulidia is “growing”.

Following consultation at local level, the Education Authority will make a recommendation on the establishment of a new controlled non-selective school. The consultation will end on January 23.