Post-primary plan ‘forward thinking’

Monsignor Eamon Martin pictured at St. Patrick's and St. Brigid's College, Claudy. Also, front from left, Mr. Eddie Kerlin, chair, Board of Governors and Fr. David O'Kane, PP, Claudy. Back, from left, Fergus Cassidy, Deputy Head Boy, Mr. Jack McCauley, Principal, Mr. Seamus Burke and Mrs. Maria Harkin, Board of Governors, Eamon Mullin, Vice Principal and Niamh Hall, Head Girl. 2505JM01

Monsignor Eamon Martin pictured at St. Patrick's and St. Brigid's College, Claudy. Also, front from left, Mr. Eddie Kerlin, chair, Board of Governors and Fr. David O'Kane, PP, Claudy. Back, from left, Fergus Cassidy, Deputy Head Boy, Mr. Jack McCauley, Principal, Mr. Seamus Burke and Mrs. Maria Harkin, Board of Governors, Eamon Mullin, Vice Principal and Niamh Hall, Head Girl. 2505JM01

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A local school principal has described a plan to radically reshape the post-primary sector as “forward thinking”.

Jack McCauley, principal of St Patrick’s and St Brigid’s College in Claudy, believes it is time to look again at our education system - “especially in this economically crippled region to ensure that we are preparing all of our young people in such a way that we enhance their job propsects and enable them to build careers in this highly competitive, 21st century, globalised economy.”

Mr. McCauley spoke out after Monsignor Eamon Martin - Derry’s Diocesan Administrator and the man spearheading the project to transform the post-primary sector - visited his school to discuss his ‘Together Towards Tomorrow’ document.

The Catholic Church in Derry have proposed a far-reaching 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.

Jack McCauley believes his school is the “proto-type” of the new post-primary school.

“Our thinking in St. Patrick’s and St. Brigid’s College is very close to that contained in Monsignor Martin’s document,” he said. “Monsignor Martin’s suggestions are forward thinking and allow for further adjustment and refinement.

“His vision of one and possibly two Sixth Form Colleges, affording as much choice as possible of ‘A’ Level and post-16 courses, both academic and vocational, for the maximum number of students, merits further attention and gives us much to consider and debate about at this difficult time in education.”

Turning to his own school and his pupils’ achievements, Mr. McCauley said: “We are a highly successful all-ability, 11-16, coeducational college. In fact, last year we secured the best percentage of Year 12 students achieving 5 or more GCSEs including English and Maths at grades A-C. Nearly half of our Year 12 students had access, albeit selective, to high quality ‘A’ Level courses in top flight grammar schools such as Thornhill, St. Columb’s College and Lumen Christi.

“If two of these schools were to become Sixth Form colleges, many more of our students would have access to high quality ’A’ level and post-16 courses, both academic and vocational. Why should this pose a threat to the levels of attainment of the most academically able pupils?”