A TOP Catholic Education chief has pledged to support the future of Cookstown’s Holy Trinity College including a new-build during a review of Post Primary education in Mid Ulster.
Gerry Lundy, who is Post Primary Revew Director, said careful planning was needed with the changes in growth of Trinity College.
At a meeting with Mr Lundy, a Sinn Fein delegation pressed the top executive on the need for Cookstown to be addressed as a ‘stand alone’ project with the potential for Holy Trinity to have an enrolment of 1300 pupils.
Councillors Sean Clarke, Pearse McAleer and John McNamee along with Francie Molloy MLA for Mid Ulster met Mr Lundy at Stormont this week.
In a joint statement the delegation said there were major concerns regarding the ‘what the NICCE call the Greater Dungannon Project’. “This project actually includes the Cookstown area and has major implications for the future development of Holy Trinity College,” said the statement, criticising already published proposals which they felt had not taken into account local consultation.
There had been concern in Cookstown that students were haemorraging to schools in Dungannon and Magherafelt.
The delegation felt the proposals were influenced by other interests outside Cookstown with no interest in the development of the Cookstown area.
The delegation said Mr Lundy was left in no doubt the published proposals were ‘unacceptable’.
“Within these proposals there was also no indication of any plans for a replacement building for the very out of date and over crowded current Holy Trinity premises,” said the statement.
The delegation claimed Mr Lundy assured them there would be full consultation and that the earlier local consultation would receive appropriate recognition and that a new build school would indeed part of the plans for the future.
In a statement to the Mid Ulster Mail, Mr Lundy said when preparing recommendations for project areas full consideration should be given to the whole area and the impact on adjoining areas.
“The Mid-Ulster area is a case in point as any agreed changes to one of the component schools will have an impact on another school. For example the Trustees fully support the vision for Holy Trinity College to become large enough to meet the needs of all young people for whom it is their nearest school. They also support the current plans for new buildings to deliver that vision.
“However if a school grows larger then that has the potential to lead to a reduction in size of another school.
“In such a situation any growth has to be carefully planned and managed so that the school which may be reducing in size can continue to be a strong, viable and sustainable school.
“That does not mean that change cannot take place but rather that careful planning and negotiation is essential in order to develop a transition plan to any proposed changes in future schooling in the area. All changes are underpinned by the shared commitment to put the needs of children first.
He emphasised the need for partnership and collaboration among existing schools and the greater sharing of resources.
“I would also wish to take this opportunity to clarify the recommendation in respect of Magherafelt. This has been reported as a recommendation to create a new school through the merger of the two schools. The recommendation, however, is not that, but is one which is asking the two schools to work together to develop what they view as the most viable long term solution.
“The recommendation asks St Mary’s Grammar school and St.Pius X College to jointly collaborate in a three year development plan for 2011 – 2014 that would build further effective and efficient links in the area of curriculum, staffing and resources, funding and implementation of further efficiencies, other issues contingent to the development of high quality post-primary education fit for all the young people in the Magherafelt area, so that they can develop their full uniqueness and potential. This work would then be subject to a full review by the Trustees, Principals, and Governors, with a view to the implementation of an agreed solution to the Magherafelt project area.
“The Trustees do have a view that, when academic selection ends, that a single school may be the way forward in Magherafelt but they are fully open to a different locally agreed solution being brought forward and are not in any way committed to a single school.
“This mirrors the position in other areas where the Trustees have expressed a view as to the development of co-education in an area but are open to a locally agreed solution which remains single sex provision.
“The key question to be answered is, will the proposed changes manage the challenges and provide high quality of all young people and there are many ways of responding in the affirmative to that question.”