Transfer test: Dungannon grammar schools bursting at seams?

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As local parents face one of their toughest decisions - which school to send their children to - latest figures reveal that Dungannon’s schools are among the most heavily oversubscribed in the North.

Competition for places is at its fiercest in local Catholic grammars with dozens of the district’s 11-year-olds expected to miss out on their first preference place, as has been the case in previous years.

Such is the demand for places that the town’s grammar schools have had to apply for temporary increases to their enrolments, according to the latest figures released by the Department of Education.

This year, both St Patrick’s Academy and St Joseph’s Grammar had to exceed the Education Department-set quota for their first year intake, with Dungannon’s Royal School joining them the previous year.

In fact, St Joseph’s Grammar, Donaghmore, is the third most popular school in Northern Ireland, according to figures released by the Department of Education at the Northern Ireland Assembly.

The pressures are not just confined to local grammars, however, with St Patrick’s College and Integrated College, Dungannon both having to apply for the extra enrolments over the past two years.

The figures also reflect the decade long population boom in the district, which has swelled the number of children attending its schools, and suggest that while political leaders are promoting controlled sector education, a Catholic education is more popular then ever.