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Ruane agrees to shut down Derry school


26/06/2008 :: Northern Ireland :: The Irish News

One of only three Irish-language post-primary schools in the north is to be shut down.

Education minister Cait-riona Ruane yesterday agreed to the closure of Colaiste Bhride "on a phased basis".

The minister said pupil intakes at the Derry school - also known as Meanscoil Dhoire - were small and there was no prospect of recovery.

The closure comes despite the minister approving funding last year for a third bunscoil (primary school) in the city.

The decision came against the advice of senior officials, who feared it would damage existing schools.

The Irish News first reported the planned closure of Meanscoil Dhoire - the only second-level Irish-medium school in the north west - in March last year.

At that time, sector leaders warned that its winding up would have a "catastrophic" effect.

The decision leaves Colaiste Feirste in Belfast and An Sruth Gaeilge at St Catherine's College in Armagh as Northern Ireland's only two Irish-medium secondary schools.

Meanscoil Dhoire opened in September 2000 as a co-educational Irish-medium unit in St Brigid's High School in the Carnhill area of the city.

However, the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools (CCMS) later said that since the unit opened, the cost to the host school's budget had been "very substantial". In addition, pupil numbers have been falling.

The CCMS's education provision committee heard that various options were being explored but "it is clear that the unit as it stands is not viable and must close".

At present it only has an enrolment of 27.

There will be no Year 8 entry in September and pupils remaining in the unit will continue to be taught through the medium of Irish until the end of Year 12.

"It is regrettable that despite the best endeavours of St Brigid's College and the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools that Irish-medium provision at Colaiste Bhride will be phased out with effect from September 2008." Ms Ruane said.

"Intakes at the unit have been small in number and with no prospect of recovery it is in the best interests of the pupils and the host school if the unit is closed.

"I would thank the teachers for their commitment to their pupils."

Meanwhile, a primary school whose pupil numbers fell to just 13 is also to be closed down.

Ms Ruane yesterday approved a proposal from CCMS to shut Guiness PS in Ballynahinch on August 31.

Only 18 children were enrolled in the 2007/08 school year but five of those left at Easter.



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