Ballyhackett Primary School to close

Ballyhackett Primary School is to close in August.

Tuesday, 27th April 2021, 2:19 pm

The decision was taken by Education Minister Peter Weir after he turned down an application by the Castlerock school to transform into an integrated school.

The Department of Education published figures showing the number of pupils at the Catholic school had fallen to 31 in 2020/21.

The Departmental documents stated: “The enrolment trajectory does not demonstrate that Ballyhackett PS has the potential to become a sustainable school.

“The challenge is too great.”

In the documents, Minister Weir rejected the application for integrated status saying: “ It is clear there is not a sustainableway forward for the school, nor given the communitynumbers any prospects of sustainability.”

Approving the closure of the school, he said: “I don’t believethat this school has sustainable numbers for the future.”

Independent MLA Claire Sugden said in a post on social media that the decision was “disappointing”.

“Small, rural schools have their place and taking them away diminishes rural communities in the longer term.

“Decisions like this are taken because of a bottom line and no consideration is given to the area, rural families and the local community.

“Ballyhackett PS is a joy to visit and it’s clear children are learning and growing in a happy, natural, rural environment. It makes no sense, especially in a post-COVID world to change this.”

Ballyhackett Primary School (then the national school) was built in 1870 by the Clothworkers’ Company of London.