Final approval for Carrick College and Downshire ‘merger’

Downshire School in Carrickfergus (image from Google)
Downshire School in Carrickfergus (image from Google)

Plans to amalgamate two post-primary schools in Carrickfergus have been rubber stamped by officials this week.

A development proposal to merge Downshire School and Carrickfergus College was granted formal approval by the Department of Education.

Carrickfergus College

Carrickfergus College

It includes the establishment of a single non-selective school from September 1, 2018, with both schools due to close on August 31 next year.

The Education Authority (EA) confirmed that as expected, the new post-primary would initially operate across a split site.

The school will also have a greater number of specialist teachers and a “large special needs department”.

John Collings, EA Director of Education said: “The aim of the proposal is to ensure the continuation of high quality, sustainable educational provision for 11-19 year-olds in the town of Carrickfergus.

“The new school would operate on a split-site between Downshire High School and Carrickfergus College until capital funding is secured to create a new single building establishment.

“It will be the decision of the interim board of governors to decide how the needs of pupils will be met across the two sites.

“A new building would be subject to an economic appraisal by the Education Authority and approval by the Department of Education. It is during the appraisal process that the best location for a new school would be decided.

“No decision on the location of any new-build has been taken at this stage.”

Mr Collings also outlined the benefits of the new school to the young people of Carrickfergus.

“The establishment of a new school of approximately 1250 pupils will ensure access to the full range of subjects at GCSE. The increased choice may encourage more students to remain in school for post-16 study,” he added.

“There will be a greater number of specialist teachers, and pupils with additional and special needs will benefit from the support of a large special needs department.

“Wider opportunities to participate in extra-curricular activities will also be created.”