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Schools may merge to form integrated college


The Belfast Telegraph

Plans are under way to merge two Co Down schools to create a new grant maintained integrated school which will cater for post-primary pupils living in the Crossgar area.

It is thought to be the first time such a proposal has been made.

It is hoped the new school - Blackwater Integrated College - will open its doors to pupils next September, replacing Rowallane Integrated College and Down Academy Controlled Integrated High School.

An interim board of governors, made up of representatives from the two existing schools, has submitted a development proposal to the Education Minister, Caitriona Ruane, outlining plans for a new 550 place, grant maintained integrated college.

The interim board was formed following the previous Education Minister Maria Eagle's acknowledgement that there weren't enough integrated post-primary places in the area.

In addition, in light of the report of the Independent Strategic Review of Education, as Down Academy has an enrolment of less than 300 pupils, it was necessary for the board of governors to investigate options to address the school's long term viability.

Dr Olwen Griffith, principal of Rowallane Integrated College, said: " This is an enormously exciting opportunity for both colleges to work in partnership and build on their existing strengths."

Ronnie Johnston, principal of Down Academy, also welcomed the proposed merger. He said he was pleased that the South Eastern Education and Library Board, Integrated Education Fund and the Northern Ireland Council for Integrated Education are working to address the lack of provision of integrated education in the area.



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