Plan to close last controlled sector school in Co Down village

Castlewellan PS. Image taken from Google StreetView
Castlewellan PS. Image taken from Google StreetView
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The Education Authority has put forward plans to close the only controlled primary school in Castlewellan, Co Down.

Castlewellan Primary School will close on August 31, 2020 if the plans go ahead.

The proposals are contained in a consultatio document published on the Education Authority website.

Views on the plans are being sought until June 28.

Enrolments at Castlewellan Primary School have dropped from 67 pupils in the 2009/10 academic year to just 18 in 2018/19.

Part of the drop in enrolments is explained, according to the Education Authority in the consultation document, by parents deciding to “relocate their children” after proposals for a merger with a nearby integrated school became public.

The Education Authority had previously suggested merging Castlewellan Primary School with Annsborough Integrated Primary School.

And a consultation carried out in May last year suggested removing a controlled school from the village would have a “detrimental impact on the local Protestant community”.

The new consultation, under a section titled ‘context’, states: “The Education Authority brought forward a suite of proposals in 2018 for astlewellan Primary School and Annsborough Integrated Primary School which would have resulted in the closure of both settings and the establishment of a new controlled integrated primary school with specialist provision attached.

“The Authority carried out pre-publication consultation with the staff, parents and Governors of both schools and, prior to bringing forward papers to the Education Committee to move to the next stage, a number of parents of pupils attending Castlewellan Primary School decided to relocate their children to alternative primary providers in the area.

“The result of this was a decline in the enrolment of Castlewellan Primary School to a point where the potential establishment of a new controlled integrated primary school was no longer viable. Therefore the Authority has reassessed the options available.”