Parent power could transform the future of Catholic education in the Dungannon District after a local primary school became the first in Northern Ireland to vote in favour of integrated education.
Parents of pupils attending Clintyclay Primary School, which is under threat of closure, called for the radical overhaul after a secret ballot last week.
It is understood that not a single parent voted against the integrated proposal, which was first passed by the board of governors at the start of the year.
Parents and supporters hope that the move will ensure the survival of the school, which was earmarked for potential closure last year by the Southern Education and Library Board after Education Minister John O’Dowd ordered a major review of the sector.
However, the school might have to manoeuvre through a legal and educational minefield if it is to continue its 121 year existence.
For one thing, it is feared the CCMS could recommend the school’s closure and derail the integrated proposal before it is fully considered by the education department.
The move might also trigger a wave of similar proposals from under-threat Catholic primary schools, with parent power becoming the driving force behind how children are educated in the district.
A spokesperson for the group campaigning to keep the school open said: “We want as parents to have the opportunity of presenting the integrated option to the Minister of Education before any further decisions are taken on the future of the school.”
It is understood that if this goes ahead the minister will then have to decide if the primary school will be viable as an integrated school, but the local community is confident that it will. The school already caters for pupils not of the Catholic religion.
“Realistically, we will never have 100 plus pupils, but we are situated in a mixed area, and all the local controlled schools are full”, added the spokesperson.