Troubled Northern Irish school awaits final decision over its future

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The future of an integrated secondary school in Northern Ireland, whose closure was put on hold, could be decided as early as this week.

Education chiefs are holding an emergency meeting to discuss what should happen to Crumlin Integrated College in Co Antrim.

The North Eastern Education and Library Board (NEELB) says the meeting will consider the possibility of opening a new, joint-faith school.

Its management will be shared between the NEELB and Catholic Church authorities.

The NEELB had been expected to announce the school’s closure last year but postponed its decision for six months.

The issue will be tabled again this week and a further postponement is unlikely.

Crumlin was placed into special measures in 2010 after inspectors highlighted major deficiencies in leadership, poor teaching standards and exam results.

Its principal was suspended and sent for training. Her return was short-lived after she faced protests and threats and was advised to stay away by police.

While the school has since improved to “good”, according to its most-recent follow-up inspection, the number of pupils remains low.

More than 1,000 secondary-age pupils travel out of the village every day to attend schools elsewhere.

Exam results at Crumlin have also improved in recent years.

The NEELB is still considering the possibility of a new school, whose management would include representatives of both the NEELB and Catholic Church.

There has been no Catholic secondary serving the area since St Aidan’s High in Glenavy shut in 1993. Almost immediately there followed an influx of Catholic families into the area.

The Council for Catholic Maintained Schools (CCMS) is considering opening a new school in the Crumlin/Glenavy area but is also involved in discussions about a potential new shared solution.

“CCMS are fully engaged with the NEELB and are a member of the working group considering the current proposals for future education provision in the Crumlin area,” a spokesman said.

 


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