Board to meet over Ulidia enrolment boost proposals

Ulidia Integrated College's proposal to increase pupil intake has been approved by the Department of Education. INCT 21-755-CON ULIDIA
Ulidia Integrated College's proposal to increase pupil intake has been approved by the Department of Education. INCT 21-755-CON ULIDIA

The Board of Governors at Ulidia is to meet this week after the school was given the go-ahead to increase its enrolment number.

Education Minister John O’Dowd last week approved an application by the integrated college to increase its admission number from 80 to 100.

This would aim to expand the school’s overall enrolment to 620 students from September 2015 or as soon as possible thereafter.

A statement from the school read: “Ulidia Integrated College has been significantly over-subscribed since its formation in 1997.

“The current enrolment of 500 students does not allow the number of parents who wish to avail of integrated education to do so, given that there is insufficient provision for post-primary integrated education in the East Antrim area.”

The plans aims to respond to a “substantial demand from parents for integrated education”, said Ulidia principal Eugene Martin.

“Ulidia is a very popular school,” Mr Martin added. “However, in the past we have had to turn away many students due to the cap on our enrolment.

“This announcement means that each year more students will be able to obtain their first choice preference and realise their dream of joining this successful college.”

The school is “ideally placed” to meet the needs of students from any background who require a post primary place, according to Robert McAlister, chairman of Ulidia’s Board of Governors. “The board will be meeting next week to begin planning the implementation of the Minister’s announcement,” Mr McAlister added.

Meanwhile, two post-primaries who previously objected to the Ulidia expansion plans have extended their best wishes to the school.

“It is important that family choice features strongly in all decisions about educational provision in Carrickfergus,” said Grammar principal, Kieran Mulvenna.

College principal Hedley Webb added: “We wish Ulidia all the best as they, like us, seek to provide quality education for all pupils in the Carrick area.”