Cross-border moves on schooling planned

Families living in border areas of Derry and Donegal will be consulted over plans to send their children to school across the border.

The plans were announced by Stormont education minister John O’Dowd and the consultation will be carried out in conjunction with education authorities in the Republic.

It will be held in schools and community groups along the border area.

If the plans receive public support, the scheme could start operating in September next year. If it goes ahead, children will be able to attend schools across the border.

In border areas like Derry/Donegal, many children cross the border every day to attend school but use addresses in the North. These proposals would make it easier for children and young people to be educated on a cross-border basis.

Minister O’Dowd said the benefits of cross-border co-operated have already been accepted by the majority of people.

“We do have cross-border travel in terms of third level and higher level education. We have growing cross-border travel in terms of health care - now we are looking at education. How can we improve the service in terms of education for border communities?”

Kathleen Gormley, principal of St Cecilia’s College in Derry, supported the plans: “This is already happening. It is only a matter of dispute when a school is over-subscribed. People are looking at the school estate here and the variety of subjects and I am not surprised that parents would want to send their children to school in Derry.

“It may reverse decisions here on school closures. It would be lovely to see children coming together from Derry and Donegal,” she said.

Concerns have been voiced in Donegal over the impact the proposals could have on rural primary schools.