St Paul’s College in Kilrea and nearby St Mary’s College in Clady are both to be “discontinued” to make way for a new, larger Catholic school in Co Derry.
An area-based planning exercise was carried out across the North to identify a network of sustainable schools better able to offer pupils a wide subject choice
Although the two Derry schools consistently produce excellent results and have steady enrolment numbers, they are considered too small to be long-term viable.
Government’s sustainable school policy states that post-primary providers should have 500 or more pupils.
Both schools are below this, although numbers are capped at 350.
St Paul’s emerged as the North’s best non-grammar GCSE performer in 2010, when a record-breaking 98 per cent of pupils achieved five or more subjects at grades A* to C.
St Mary’s has also been among the 10 best performing non-grammar schools in recent years.
The plan now is to create one new 11 to 18 school described as “being in effect an amalgamation” of St Paul’s and St Mary’s, which are about eight miles apart.
It is hoped the new school, which will cater for up to 850 boys and girls, will be opened on a site to be determined at a later date.
The intention is to open the new school by September 2015, although it is highly unlikely that capital funding will be secured to enable this.
It is, therefore, more likely to re-open under a new name on a split site.
John Dallat, SDLP assembly member for east Derry, says closure will not mean finality for the highly successful St Paul’s.
“This is nothing more than a process, hopefully leading to greater things for St Paul’s children and providing security for post-primary education in this geographical area well into the future,” he explained.