The scrapping of academic selection to Catholic grammar schools in Derry has moved a step closer with local church leaders poised to meet with Boards of Governors to discuss a “phased transition” away from the controversial transfer model.
The move comes as the Catholic Church in Derry publishes an analysis of the public’s response to its radical plans to transform the face of post-primary education in the city.
The “Together Towards Tomorrow” proposals include the abolition of academic selection, an end to single sex schools and the creation of two new sixth-form colleges.
Diocesan Administrator Monsignor Eamon Martin also plans a “partnership of distinct but linked Catholic post-primary schools in the Derry area known as the “Le Chéile Partnership”. Le Chéile is Irish for ‘together’.
Mons. Martin told the ‘Journal’ that the proposals had generated “considerable debate and interest throughout the community.”
He said he was encouraged to find ‘a high level of support” for the Le Chéile plan and he believes it is now time for post-primary principals, in consultation with their Boards of Governors, to take the ‘Partnership’ idea to the “next stage in its evolution.”
Turning to academic selection, he revealed that, while a majority of the individual written responses to the proposals was opposed to moving away from academic selection as an admissions criterion, the majority of ‘corporate responses’ - mainly from Boards of Governors - expressed some support as did a majority of those who completed school-designed questionnaires.
He told the ‘Journal’ that, in coming months, he will engage directly with Boards of Governors in an effort to agree a method of “phased transition” away from the use of academic selection.
“I will also facilitate discussions about alternative admissions criteria, taking account of the long-standing tradition of the three current grammar schools accepting pupils from a wide catchment area.”
The analysis report will be published today on the Diocesan website at www.derrydiocese.org