Education Minister, John O’Dowd, has approved the amalgamation of Coleraine Academical Institution and Coleraine High School on the Coleraine Inst site, and an increase in enrolment at Coleraine College.
The Minister made the annoucement following a consultation on Friday afternoon.
On Monday, in a joint statment, the three Coleraine schools said: “The Minister’s announcement on the future of the Voluntary Grammar and Controlled Post Primary sectors signals the start of an exciting new chapter for education provision in the Coleraine area, and one which will provide suitable and sustainable educational pathways for all post-primary pupils in the region.
“We are delighted that the Minister has approved these proposals which had positive support from within the community. While we recognise change of this nature is challenging, we believe this plan presents the best opportunity to deliver a long-term, viable and sustainable Post Primary education system in the Coleraine area”.
The schools will now begin the significant work of preparing for the implementation of the decision, a process which will focus on the needs of current pupils in the schools as well as those who will attend them in future years.
Politicians have met the news with a mixed reaction.
Independent MLA Claire Sugden, a former pupil of Coleraine High said: “I believe that the announcement is the beginning of the end of an era. The announcement, however, is positive too because both Coleraine High School and Coleraine Academical Institution are proactive in self-determining their future. They made a decision to come together to avoid a detrimental and inevitable outcome. Additionally, I believe that the increase in enrolment of students for Coleraine College will further the provision of a vocational pathway to students.
DUP MLA Adrian McQuillan welcomed the news saying: “Now the pupils and teachers know what is going on, this has been hanging over their heads for some time. It is the beginning of a new era in education for pupils and teachers in the Coleraine area.
The Mayor of Coleraine, councillor George Duddy said he was present at Colearaine College on Friday morning when the news filtered through, he said that it was ‘great news’ for Coleraine College.
“I know that these teachers have been stressed with the uncertainty of the proposals. It will be a welcome boost to the area to have Coleraine College improved and to see enrolement increased there.”
However, the Mayor said that DRD Minister, Danny Kennedy would need to look at the roads infrastructure in the area.
This concern was also echoed by many who took the time to comment on our story online.
“There is gridlock with four schools in the area already, we will be adding more pupils to Coleraine College and to Coleraine Inst -something needs to be done to improve the traffic there,” said the Mayor.