Groarty PS to shut in August 2021

The only integrated primary school on Derry’s west bank is to close next year, it’s been confirmed.
Groarty PS is to close next year.Groarty PS is to close next year.
Groarty PS is to close next year.

Pupil numbers at Groarty Controlled Integrated PS - a former state school which transformed to integrated status 15 years ago - fell to just 17 this year and it had no new primary ones.

NI Education Minister Peter Weir says the school - located on the Coshquin Road - will discontinue with effect from August 31, 2021, and no later.

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He added: “Having weighed up all the information, including the fact that 7 of the 17 pupils will be exiting P7, with no new intake for 2019-20 or September 2020, it is clear that, unfortunately, the school is not sustainable and that provision for any pupils in an integrated setting can be made elsewhere in the city.”

The other integrated option in the city is the larger Oakgrove IPS in the Waterside which, it’s understood, currently has a limited number of available places.

Integrated schools are required to have a minimum of 30 per cent of their enrolment from “the minority tradition”.

It’s understood that, since its transformation to integrated status in 2005/06, Groarty PS has experienced a fall in the number of Protestant pupils.

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Supporters of Groarty PS had argued that the school was the only integrated primary school on the cityside of the River Foyle.

They also highlighted “ongoing residential community segregation” in the city and the importance of retaining as many shared institutions as possible on the west bank.

They said the school played an important role in the local community and had developed a strong shared education programme with the Irish language primary Gaelscoil na Daróige.

Supporters also warned that approving the closure proposal would have an adverse effect on educational experience of young people, particularly those with special educational needs.