MAJOR CHANGES FOR COLERAINE SCHOOLS

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COLERAINE Academical Institution and Coleraine High School will combine to create two separate co-educational schools under new proposals announced by the North Eastern Education and Library Board.

The schools will retain their own names and management structures, however one school will select its pupils by academic ability and will have a maximum enrolment of 990 pupils by the year 2025 with the other school non selective with a maximum enrolment of 1,210 pupils, also by 2025.

The proposals were revealed following a meeting of the North Eastern Education and Library Board last Tuesday when its area based planning proposals for the post primary sector were agreed.

The other main proposals are:

* Coleraine College will be considered for closure.

* North Coast Integrated College will continue as an 11-19 school with a maximum enrolment by the year 2025 of 550 pupils.

* Dunluce School will continue as an 11-16 school with a maximum enrolment of 550 pupils by the year 2025.

A statement from the Board said: “The Board wishes to signal the pivotal need for the provision of new school buildings to support the development of the two new co-educational schools contained in this proposal, given the current condition of the estate and the single sex nature of its provision.”

NEELB has been engaging with key stakeholders on since January and received in excess of 24,000 responses to the consultation on the Post Primary Area Based Plan Consultation that took place between July and October.

All proposed changes in these proposals will require further a further period of statutory consultation with governors, parents, staff and pupils of affected schools and the subsequent publication of appropriate development proposals for public consultation.

All proposed enrolment figures contain the additional 10% of places required by the Department of Education to facilitate flexibility.

The proposals for post primary provision in the other areas of the Board, namely Ballymoney, Carrickfergus, Larne, Moyle and Magherafelt were agreed by the Board and will be submitted to the Minister for Education for consideration and subsequent publication on a date to be determined by the Minister.

Coleraine College principal Stella-Jo Skobel, told the Times in a statement: “With regards to the NEELB announcement on the future of local schools I would like to emphasise these are only the Initial Proposals of the North Eastern Education and Library Board and there will be no change in post primary provision until the Minister of Education decides on change.

I want to reassure the community that the College will continue as normal for pupils and staff. We shall continue to do the very best we can for each child in our care.”

The principal of Coleraine High School, Mrs Anne Bell confirmed that her staff had met to discuss the way forward and the school governors would be meeting on Tuesday.

She told the Times: “Following this, the head teachers and chairs of both schools will meet to compare our thoughts.

“At this time I am not at liberty to comment extensively until the governors have met, but, I can say that the school is approaching further discussions in a confident manner.”