I wish to inform the Deputy that submissions received from the groups in question were acknowledged and were forwarded to my officials for consideration.
As the Deputy is aware the decision making authority for any amalgamation is the Patron/Trustees of the schools, and this is subject to the approval of my Department.
Any proposed change involves extensive negotiations at local level and must be well planned and managed in a manner that accommodates the interests of students, parents, teachers, local communities and contributes to an inclusive education system. My Department was not involved in these negotiations.
I can confirm to the Deputy that the report from the patron setting out the proposal to amalgamate both schools was analysed by officials in my Department along with submissions from the groups referred to by the Deputy.
In addition to considering the submissions received officials in my Department’s Planning and Building Unit carried out an analysis of the current enrolment trends, intake patterns, future demographic demands and the current curriculum provision. The outcome of this analysis concluded that in the best interest of all stakeholders the approval of a new school building to facilitate the amalgamation of the two existing schools was the best option.
As the Deputy is aware I have accepted the recommendation from the patron to amalgamate the existing schools into a new building, and the patron has been informed.