ICC parents launch petition for support

Immaculate Conception College.  (0207JB23)
Immaculate Conception College. (0207JB23)

A campaign group set up to save the Waterside’s only Catholic post primary school from closure is calling on the public’s support.

Immaculate Conception College’s bell will sound for the last time in 2015 if recommendations by the Catholic Council for Maintained Schools (CCMS) are adopted.

Education Minister John O’Dowd will have the final say on whether or not the school will close its doors but the CCMS has already proposed that the best option would be a “phased closure” of the Trench Road site beginning in September 2014 and completed by the following September.

Concerned group, Parents of ICC have stepped up their campaign to keep the school open with the launch of a petition. The group also plans to take the fight to Stormont to make a case to save the school.

Vanessa Conaghan, PICC told the ‘Journal’: “We now have a petition and we will send it to the Department of Education, the Catholic Council for Maintained Schools and the Education Minister personally.

“We started the petition yesterday and have over 600 signatures already. We’re hoping to get up to 5,000 signatures on the petition to help save the school,” she added.

The parents’ group is also in the process of setting up the Friends of Immaculate Conception College which will be made up of members of the local community, teachers, past pupils and others to “promote the school and raise its profile”, Mrs Conaghan added.

A delegation including representatives from the school and the parents’ group has also been invited to Stormont to make a case for the school remaining open.

“We hope to have the petition complete in the next few weeks in preparation for a visit to Stormont,” Mrs Conaghan said.

Immaculate Conception College (ICC) parents have formed an action group and set up a Facebook page in a bid to persuade the authorities to keep the school open. A two month CCMS consultation process with governors, staff, parents and pupils of the college on the recommendation to close the school was launched in May.

The recommendation is that there will be a phased closure of the school starting from September 2014.

If approved this means that no Year 8 pupils will start the school in September 2014 and that no Year 11 and 13 pupils will begin GCSE and post 16 courses in September 2014. The school would then close completely by September 2015.”

CCMS said it will “carefully consider the responses”.