Merger plan will halt ‘brain drain’

Councillor Billy Ashe
Councillor Billy Ashe

Two Carrick post-primary schools look set to merge in September 2018, according to an Education Authority development proposal.

The consultation has been highlighted by Councillor Billy Ashe who is backing calls for a brand new purpose-built school.

It is anticipated that the new co-educational, non-selective controlled school will operate on a split site in the town initially.

The new school will have an annual approved admissions number of 210 and an approved enrolment number of 1,250.

Cllr. Ashe has urged local residents to respond backing the proposal.

He said: “At long last, we could have a purpose-built school on a new site. We have not had a new school in the controlled sector in Carrick for a long time.

“I think a merger is a step in the right direction assuming a new purpose-built school comes on stream very quickly. If not, this will contribute to a brain drain out of Carrick.

“Therefore, I would urge people to take part in this consultation.”

Both schools have already taken part in a review of controlled post-primary education provision locally.

Both principals are in favour of a brand new post-primary non-selective school for the town in the near future.

Currently, Carrickfergus College at North Road is operating at 76 per cent capacity and Downshire School, at 68 per cent with 667 pupils enrolled at Carrickfergus College and 511 at Downshire.

Meanwhile, the Education Authority has stated that provision at Carrickfergus Grammar remains “high” and Ulidia Integrated College is “growing”.

The EA Education Committee approved publication of the development proposal at a meeting on February 9.

The proposal can be viewed at the Education Authority office at Ballymoney Street, Ballymena. Objections can be emailed to dps@education-ni.gov.uk