Northern Ireland has 10 schools in special measures

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The number of Northern Ireland secondary schools under special measures now stands at 10, after two more failed inspections.

The number of Northern Ireland secondary schools under special measures now stands at 10, after two more failed inspections.

Dunluce School in Bushmills and Blackwater Integrated College in Downpatrick are the latest to be criticised. The pair are now involved in the Department of Education’s “formal intervention” improvement programme.

Inspectors heavily criticised the schools for their quality of education provision, labelling both “inadequate”.

Formal intervention was designed to allow schools to address areas for improvement identified at inspection.

The inspection team that visited Dunluce says it has concerns about underachievement in exams. Fewer than half of its pupils are earning five “good” GCSEs. Less than a quarter attain five GCSEs including English and maths at grade C and above.

At Blackwater, meanwhile, inspectors say there are significant areas for improvement in standards, governance, leadership and management including financial planning, and in self-evaluation for improvement.

They also say they have concerns about “unsatisfactory” arrangements for safeguarding young people. While the percentage of Blackwater pupils achieving grades A* to C in five or more subjects is increasing, it remains well below the Northern Ireland average for similar schools.

The school is also in “considerable deficit”, resulting from its formation, which impacts significantly on the financial planning to deliver the curriculum and support pupils with additional learning needs.

While formal intervention will give the schools time to transform their fortunes, some have failed to exit the process successfully.

Of the other secondary schools in formal intervention, the North’s education minister John O’Dowd has already approved the closure of Dunmurry High outside Belfast.

There are also plans to close down the all girls’ St Gemma’s High School in the city. Ballee Community High School in Ballymena is also facing closure if area plans published by the North Eastern Education and Library Board are approved.


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