The man spearheading plans for a radical shake-up of Catholic post-primary schools in Derry insists change must happen.
Diocesan Administrator Monsignor Eamon Martin says that “change can be unsettling and difficult... but, as times change, so must we.”
Mons. Martin’s ‘Together Towards Tomorrow’ plan - which signals the end of academic selection, single sex schools, and the creation of two new sixth-form colleges in Derry - was the focus of debate at a public meeting in the city this week.
The event - which was attended by more than 100 people - was organised by a group calling itself the Derry Grammar Schools’ Parents Association.
Mons. Martin argues that “change, although daunting, has been transformational in the past.”
“It’s true that many see this as idealistic and far reaching and I understand that change can be an unsettling and difficult process for some,” he said.
“However, as the trustees of Catholic education, it is our responsibility to create and share a vision of the future which can accommodate the changing demographics of our time and the quickly changing world around us...
“As times change, so must we.”
He added: “I am not asking for change overnight.
“I would like grammar schools to show leadership in this area and propose that we introduce this in a staged way over the coming years with periodic review and evaluation.”
Meanwhile, many parents who attended Wednesday night’s public meeting in Derry voiced anger at what they described as a lack of “proper consultation” surrounding the proposals
One of the organisers Gerard Roarty said: “We’re asking the bishops not to hang Derry out to dry.
“If there is such a strong argument for the abolition of grammar schools, then it’s important to convince all sides of the community and in all areas of Northern Ireland and not just those involved in Catholic grammar schools in the Derry city area.”