The long-running campaign for a new school building to cater for youngsters in Islandmagee has taken a major step forward.
Kilcoan Primary and Mullaghdubh Primary are set to effectively merge into a single controlled school, operating across both sites, from September 1, 2016.
And it has been announced that the new entity will be known simply as Islandmagee Primary School, a move which will provide a new sense of identity for pupils, staff and parents.
Based on sites approximately three miles apart, both Kilcoan and Mullaghdubh operate out of buildings which are well over 100 years old.
While being split across two sites is perhaps not an ideal situation, it is hoped the merger will strengthen the case for a new-build on a site purchased over a decade ago by the North-Eastern Education and Library Board.
Rev Peter Bovill, who sits on the board of governors at Kilcoan, Mullaghdubh and the interim board for the new Islandmagee PS, told the Times: “The naming of the school marks the beginning of an exciting new chapter.
“Our long-term goal is to secure funding for a replacement school, but in the short-term this amalgmation will offer many benefits for children, staff and parents.
“Junior pupils (P1-4) will be located at the Mullaghdubh site, while seniors (P5-7) are to be educated at the Kilcoan facility.
“By splitting the pupils over two locations, it will ensure a much better teacher-to-pupil-ratio than both schools have at present.”
“We will obviously continue our campaign to lobby for a new school building, but our focus now is on promoting the opening of Islandmagee PS and getting the message out there.”
Meanwhile, it has been revealed that current Mullaghdubh PS principal, Arlene Cambridge, has been appointed as the principal designate of Islandmagee PS.
She said: “The naming of the new primary school is a huge step forward in this whole process. The name was chosen by parents and pupils, and they are also currently working on designing our new school emblem.
“It is exciting to finally see progress being made and the response from parents has been very positive. Understandably, a lot of questions have been raised, mainly over practical issues such as transport.
“But the board of governors is working closely with parents to address these concerns, and make the transition as smooth as possible.”
An open night will be held at the junior site (Mullaghdubh) on Tuesday, December 1 from 6pm-8pm.