Catholic schools shake-up plan

Diocesan Administrator, Monsignor Eamon Martin.
Diocesan Administrator, Monsignor Eamon Martin.

The Catholic Church in Derry have proposed a radical shake up of post-primary education in the city which could signal the end of academic selection, single sex schools, and the creation of two new sixth-form colleges.

The ambitious proposals are contained in a new document, ‘Together Towards Tomorrow,’ written by Diocesan Administrator, Monsignor Eamon Martin.

Mons. Martin is proposing a “family” of Catholic post-primary schools across the city working together in a new partnership towards a phased transition from academic selection. The proposals also include a “substantive change” to the shape of post-16 education in the city with the possible establishment of one or two new sixth form colleges catering for 1,800 students.

Mons. Martin said the move “proposes 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’.

The initiative is designed to improve education provision, tackle disadvantage, and strengthen links between schools.

The 22-page document sets out short, medium and long term objectives which, if implemented, could lead to a major overhaul of the post-primary provision in Derry and see an end to the current structures of single-sex grammar and secondary schools.

Mons. Martin said the proposals, which will now go out to consultation, are unique to Derry. “We are taking a lead here. I am sure other places will be interested to see how this will go down.

“I am quite concerned that we are losing good schools. It is time for us to work together to protect the school estate and our young people. That might mean looking less at the institutions of schools and thinking about what we are doing for our children as a whole,” he said.

The Diocesan Administrator acknowledged that the proposals may not be popular with the three Catholic grammar schools. “I am hoping that they will look positively on these proposals. I am calling for dialogue and debate,” he said.

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