New education ‘vision’ for Coleraine schools

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NEW proposals for an educational village in Coleraine bringing together primary, secondary and third level on the University campus have been described by Noreen Campbell, Director of Northern Ireland Council for Integrated Education, as ‘visionary’ and unlike any other education provision in these islands.

The proposals, which will form the basis for a consultation meeting this week in North Coast Integrated College, have been given the go ahead from the University enabling North Coast to present the groundbreaking project to DENI for consideration.

If approved, the project will offer an unrivalled model for education and progression. It is thought that there are no comparable models providing education from ‘cradle to career’ in the UK or Ireland.

The ‘Education Village’ which would be located in the grounds of the University of Ulster at Coleraine is a fifth option which North Coast Integrated College is requesting the Department of Education consider.

Noreen Campbell told The Coleraine Times: “The proposals project a future that is inclusive irrespective of gender, creed or religion. To bring education provision on a single site opens up immense opportunities for synergy.

“In terms of pupils aspirations; being educated side by side with University students removes the mystique and barrier to higher education. Our vision is for seamless education provision in a centre of excellence the likes of which has never been proposed before.”

Jim Frizelle, principal of North Coast Integrated College, added: “The current proposals on the table for Coleraine do not take into account the fact that integrated education has been delivered in the town for almost twenty years.

Rather than propose anything radically new, the proposals on the table would perpetuate the status quo and would in effect abolish integrated education in this area.

We have demonstrated the value in children of all abilities, all backgrounds and all religions being brought together. The proposals we are bringing to our consultation meeting take integration to its next logical level, by integrating provision and progression on a single site.

“This offers an extended lifelong learning model to pupils and their families from ages four to 21 and beyond.”

Mr Frizelle believes that these options open to Coleraine schools do not meet the aims and objectives of the Department of Education and proposes an alternative innovative alternative that increases parental choice and negates the certainty of polarisation of the Coleraine community in the future.

THE OTHER OPTIONS

* Coleraine Academical Institution and Coleraine High School would combine to become a shared co-educational 11-19 school. Initially provision would be based on current school sites but a new build facility would be required as soon as possible - 1,500 pupils.

* Coleraine College and North Coast Integrated College would combine to become a shared 11-19 co-educational school, initially on current school sites but a new build facility would be required as soon as possible - 1,000 pupils

* Coleraine Academical Institution, Coleraine High School, Coleraine College and North Coast Integrated College would combine to become a shared co-educational 11-19 school. Initially provision would be based on current school sites but a new build facility would be required as soon as possible - 2,500 pupils

* Coleraine Academical Institution, Coleraine High School, Coleraine College and North Coast Integrated College would combine to become two shared single sex 11-19 schools. Initially provision would be based on current school sites but a new build facility would be required as soon as possible - 1,250 pupils.