Plans for a new school are aimed at stopping town’s daily exodus of pupils

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A town where most pupils leave every morning is to shut its only secondary school – but re-open an almost identical college the very next day.

There are plans to close Crumlin Integrated College in Northern Ireland, which has been struggling with low pupil numbers for years.

A separate proposal has been published to open a new 11 to 19 integrated post-primary school a day later. It is hoped the change will take place by September 2016.

The challenge for integrated campaigners is convincing locals to stay in the Co Antrim town for their secondary education. 

More than 1,100 pupils living in Crumlin choose not to attend the existing college. Instead they board buses to travel to grammar and non-grammar schools in Belfast, Lisburn and elsewhere.

It is hoped the introduction of a 6th form at the new school will convince more to stay. The existing school caters for pupils up to year 12 only.

Crumlin Integrated College was placed into the “formal intervention” process in February 2010 after inspectors highlighted major deficiencies in leadership, poor teaching standards and exam results. Principal Annabelle Scott was removed from her post and sent for training. She faced a protest upon her return and was later warned by police to stay away from the school because of a death threat.

Numbers at the school have been in decline, and last year there were just 141 enrolled. 

If the school is allowed to effectively re-open under new management, it is hoped it will attract up to 600 pupils.

The new school proposal has been brought forward by the Crumlin Supports Integrated Education Steering Group and the Northern Ireland Council for Integrated Education (NICIE) is supporting it. Chief executive Noreen Campbell said it will be a challenge to persuade the hundreds who leave Crumlin every day to remain: “It makes no sense, under aims of area-based planning, to have a town the size of Crumlin without a secondary school.

“There is a very active parents’ group, cross-community political support. NICIE will be working hard to make it a success.”

 


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