School is ‘integrated in all but funding’

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One of Carrick’s controlled schools has emphasised its own integrated ethos after approval was granted to expand pupil numbers at Ulidia.

Downshire School had previously expressed opposition to the plans, along with Carrickfergus Grammar and Carrick College.

“Although Downshire School does not carry official ‘integrated’ status, our school community is made up of children (and staff) from many different religions and cultures and we celebrate and promote respect for inclusion and diversity. We therefore may be considered ‘integrated’ in everything except funding,” said the school’s principal, Jackie Stewart.

“We will continue to provide a quality education for our pupils in a supportive and caring environment and will, as always, engage positively with all our neighbouring post-primary schools through the Carrickfergus Learning Community.”

Meanwhile, East Antrim MLA Roy Beggs expressed concern over the timing of the expansion announcement. “It is disappointing that the Minister has approved the expansion ahead of the area plan proposed merger of Carrickfergus College and Downshire School,” he said. “Post-primary pupil numbers have been dropping in the Carrick area and the expansion proposal for one particular school in advance of the area plan to amalgamate schools would add to the financial pressures at Carrickfergus College and Downshire School, where the majority of additional pupils would be expected to be attracted from.

“It is disappointing that instead of everyone benefiting, one school will benefit at the expense of others.”