Islandmagee schools merger is ‘a step in the right direction’

Peter Bovill from 1st Islandmagee Presbyterian, Mrs Todd (Kilcoan PS Principal), Sylvia Gourley (Musical Director 1st Islandmagee Pres.), Mrs Cambridge (Mullaghdubh PS Principal) with Lewis, Dennis, Abigail, Ella, Chloe and Eve from both schools. INLT 18-059-GR
Peter Bovill from 1st Islandmagee Presbyterian, Mrs Todd (Kilcoan PS Principal), Sylvia Gourley (Musical Director 1st Islandmagee Pres.), Mrs Cambridge (Mullaghdubh PS Principal) with Lewis, Dennis, Abigail, Ella, Chloe and Eve from both schools. INLT 18-059-GR
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A long awaited proposal to amalgamate two primary schools in Islandmagee has been given the go-ahead, it has been revealed.

Kilcoan Primary and Mullaghdubh Primary will effectively merge into a single controlled school, operating across both sites, from September 1, 2016.

The announcement has been welcomed by the boards of governors at both schools, with hopes that the move will strengthen the case for a new-build on a site previously acquired for that purpose.

Hopes had been high for the creation of a new school building to cater for children in the Islandmagee area after the North Eastern Education and Library Board) first put forward the plan in 2004.

Based on sites approximately three miles apart, both Kilcoan and Mullaghdubh currently operate out of buildings which are well over 100 years old.

Marie Kane, vice-chair of the board of governors at Kilcoan, explained: “The schools had committed to a merger over 10 years ago, and it appeared back then that the money was available to build a new school.

“For some reason that didn’t happen, even though the site for the new school had been bought by the NEELB.

“We may have been a little bit neglected, although we do recognise that this is a difficult time in terms of funding.

“However, operating across two sites will be expensive, so the case we would put to the Education Authority for a new building becomes much stronger.

“Broadly speaking, parents are supportive of (the merger). Without it, there was no other way forward for the two schools so this a step in the right direction.”

With another year to go before the amalgamation comes into effect, it will be up to an interim board of governors to determine the details of how the new school will operate.

Appointments to the interim board are expected in the next few months.

“The expectation is that parents and other interested parties will be involved in the decision making,” Marie added.