Catholic education overhaul looms as deadline ends
THOUSANDS of parents from across the district have outlined their views on the biggest overhaul of Catholic secondary education in the Dungannon area for more than half a century.
During a 16 week-period of consultation, which ended last week, the Southern Education and Library Board was inundated with several thousand responses to the proposed new model of education, which could deal a hammer blow to grammar education.
The schools facing the biggest changes are St Patrick’s Academy, St Patrick’s College, St Joseph’s Grammar Donaghmore and St Joseph’s College Coalisland.
Among the recommendations outlined were plans for a shared educational campus for St Patrick’s College and St Patrick’s Academy, and a formal partnership between St Joseph’s College and St Joseph’s Grammar.
According to the Southern Education and Library Board area planning report, the Trustees of St. Patrick’s College, and the Tyrone Catholic Board of Education, Trustees of St Patrick’s Academy, envisage the development of a shared educational campus, while retaining the identity and status of both schools.
“This could be achieved through further collaboration between St. Patrick’s Academy, and St. Patrick’s College, thus providing access to a full range of high quality academic and vocational qualifications which meets the future career pathways of all pupils”, said the authors of the report.
A further study into the possibility of a formal partnership between St Joseph’s Grammar and St Joseph’s College is due to be completed by December. It is envisaged that a shared sixth form college will be provided in St Joseph’s Grammar.
The study will also examine the possibility of new governance arrangements.
The Irish Medium stream in St Joseph’s Grammar School, Donaghmore, will continue to be further supported and developed.
Welcoming the end of the consultation process, Education Minister, John O’Dowd said: “The publication of area plans for post-primary provision marked the first step on the road to transforming our education provision here. I remain committed to raising standards and delivering a high quality education for all the pupils in our schools.
“Viability Audits were carried out by the boards and these showed that too many of our schools are experiencing stress in some form. This clearly indicates the need for change and the need to restructure our education system to ensure it is fit for the 21st century.”
With the consultation period ending, boards will now analyse the responses and present a report on the issues raised during the consultation along with their refined and enhanced plans to the Education Minister for consideration. The Minister aims to conclude his deliberations in the coming months.
Emphasising that this is not the end of the process, the Minister said: “I want to assure schools, parents and communities as a whole that this is not the end of the process but rather the beginning. The area plans will be reviewed regularly to ensure that they remain fit for purpose and reflect local circumstances.”
In order to make a change to the schools estate, a development proposal must be published. Development proposals are subject to the statutory consultation process giving further opportunity for communities to have their say on the future of their education system.
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Weather for Dungannon
Tuesday 21 May 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 14 C
Wind Speed: 18 mph
Wind direction: North
Temperature: 4 C to 12 C
Wind Speed: 17 mph
Wind direction: North