Derry schools bid for ‘fresh start’ together on first ever proposed joint Irish language and integrated campus

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The heads of neighbouring Irish language and integrated schools in Ballymagroarty say they’re hugely excited by the prospect of co-locating in a unique move that would result in the first ever shared campus of its kind.

Oisín MacEó, of Gaelscoil na Daróige and Nick Tomlinson, of Groarty Integrated, said an application for share of a £500m fund for shared education promised by the British Government after Stormont House and repledged at the ‘Fresh Start’ talks, was officially lodged in December.

The proposal is for the schools to share a campus on either of a number of proposed sites in the north of the city. It is currently under consideration by the Department of Education.

“It’s a very innovative and exciting application. What we’re talking about is something very unique that hasn’t been attempted anywhere else really,” said Mr MacEó.

Mr Tomlinson agreed: “It’s quite an exciting idea, bringing together two schools from different sectors. You’re bringing together people from different cultural backgrounds, pupils using two different languages. It’s an interesting and innovative project.

The move is backed by both schools’ boards, parents and staff and is the natural fruition of an ongoing collaboration.

“We’re building on what’s gone before. It’s not just come out of the blue.

“It’s building on a genuine partnership. We are looking to build on that and expand on it,” said Mr MacEó.