Irish language and integrated schools say there’s room for their unique shared campus on 290 acre housing site

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Campaigners for a brand new shared school that would house both Groarty Integrated Primary and Gaelscoil Na Daróige have urged politicians and the education authorities to make provision for a joint campus amid a vast tract of land zoned for housing in the city’s northwestern suburbs

Staff and pupils from both schools recently gathered at the corner of a section of the massive 290 acre ‘H2’ site that stretches from the Buncrana Road all the way to the Maple Road and which is just around the corner from the integrated and Irish language primaries.

Last year the Education Authority (EA) recommended that an incoming Education Minister refuse a Groarty/Na Daróige application for a shared campus, stating that it feared the proposed joint school might present sustainability issues in future.

But the schools have since been encouraged by the submission of an application by Coredale Management Limited for mix of house types, local community facilities, open space, pedestrian and vehicular access and, notably, a primary school in the area.

Standing under a council billboard on the H2 land, the schools, in a joint statement, said: “Our proposal is that the school campus in the new housing development should consist of two independent schools, one Irish Medium and one Integrated, sharing resources where appropriate and to the benefit of the children.

“Just like the Council poster says, we wish to build a shared, equal and safe school community.”

The schools will be holding a community meeting in Groarty Integrated Primary School at 6. p.m. on Thursday to discuss their ongoing campaign.

They have invited local stakeholders and political representatives to discuss theirdrive for a shared campus

The campaigners said that with 3,500 homes due to be built on their doorstep, the schools believe it is the EA’s position on their proposal that is no longer sustainable.

“A final decision on last year’s applications for shared campuses has yet to be made by the Department of Education,” the spokesperson said.

“The two schools are calling on the Department to fulfil their statutory duties to both Irish Medium Education and Integrated Education and support their application.”

The spokesperson for the two schools concluded: “For too long now we have been delivering child centred education in sub standard premises that are a blowback to a bygone era.

“The future is a shared safe child rich environment fit for purpose in the 21st Century.”

The campaign has already received broad support from local councillors and MLAs.