Over 1000 students bussed daily from Cookstown to Magherafelt

OVER 1000 children are being bussed from Cookstown to Magherafelt every day to attend secondary school.

A total of 1025 students are making the Monday to Friday jaunt from the district, compared to just one travelling from Magherafelt to Cookstown.

The figures, which only reflect those receiving travel assistance, back up concern that students from Cookstown are haemorrhaging to schools in other council areas because the district is short of school desks.

Earlier this year the MAIL revealed how one educational group estimated that Cookstown was short of 500 school places.

Cookstown Forum for Education also slammed proposals made by the Northern Ireland Catholic Commission for Education (NICCE) made in its post-primary review in March that “further analysis” was required on the expansion of Holy Trinity College.

St Pius X College in Magherafelt receives the highest number of pupils from the Cookstown area by bus, a total of 367, while 347 travel to St Mary’s Grammar School. Sperrin College currently takes in 95 students from the area whilst Rainey Endowed and Magherafelt High School welcome 158 and 39 school-aged children respectively. Nineteen pupils travel from the Cookstown council area to attend Kilronan Special School in Magherafelt.

In comparison the secondary school with the highest intake of pupils receiving travel help from the Magherafelt council area is Holy Trinity College, with just one pupil.

The figures, released by the Minister of Education John O’Dowd to Mid-Ulster MLA Ian McCrea, also detail a number of Magherafelt primary schools who receive pupils from the Cookstown district council area.

In the written Assembly question, Mr McCrea asked the Education Minister: “...how many pupils from the Magherafelt District Council

area travel to schools in the Cookstown District Council area and receive transport assistance for travel by bus, broken down by school.”

Fourteen pupils receive travel assistance to attend Moneymore Primary School, 12 attend Woods Primary School, and seven to attend St Patrick’s Primary School in The Loup.

However, these primary schools lie on the border of Cookstown and Magherafelt council boundary areas.

Last month the prinicpal of Holy Trinity College called for the educational needs of 11 to 18 year-olds living within the district to be addressed.

Isabel Russell emphasised the need for a new 1300 pupil, all-ability, Holy Trinity College that can provide a “high quality educational experience” children deserve.

She said: “Our children have a right to be educated in modern facilities; they have an entitlement to be treated as equals; they have a right to a high quality educational experience; we, as educators, must continue to do the groundwork so that our young people can prove that they are the best that they can be”.