A decision to transform Seaview Primary School in Glenarm to integrated status has resulted in a boost in enrolment this September.
A development proposal is being forwarded by school governors to the Education Authority after parents voted overwhelmingly in favour of integration.
Seaview is believed to be the first Roman Catholic school to seek this change of status.
Principal Barry Corr said: “Our school has 60/40 Catholic/Protestant pupils; 50/50 staff; the village of Glenarm has Catholic/Protestant families living side by side.”
Mr. Corr has reported a 50 per cent rise in school admission figures from 42 to 65.
Ninety-five per cent of parents voted for transformation to controlled integrated status on Friday through a postal ballot carried out by the Electoral Reform Service.
He added that with the current level of interest and enrolment growth, Seaview can achieve the target of 105 pupils detailed in the Sustainable Schools Policy.
“With the latest increase in pupil numbers and community support for our school, we will request and expect CCMS (Council for Catholic Maintained Schools) to withdraw their proposal for closure so we can proceed with the integration process.
He noted that research by Ulster University indicated that parents favoured a school in each village; a Catholic school in Carnlough and an integrated one in Glenarm.
Mr. Corr added: “With our expansion, we expect to be able to employ a new teacher soon or for 2020/21 academic year.
“Our development proposal will be for an integrated primary school to open on the Seaview site on September 1 2021 or as soon as possible before or after that date.”
A spokesperson for CCMS said: CCMS is currently in the process of completing stakeholder consultation with the staff, parents, Board of Governors and pupils of Seaview Primary School. Upon review of all stakeholder responses, CCMS will decide whether to proceed with the proposal to close the school from 31 August 2021.
“The school community is working with NICIE to progress the option for an integrated solution proposal in line with the guidance in “Integration Works – Transforming Your School” and the guidance contained within it. CCMS will provide all support, as appropriate, for the pursuance of this option, yet CCMS has no authority to establish a controlled integrated school.
“CCMS’ proposal does not pose a risk to the progress of an integrated option. The proposed closure of Seaview PS as a Catholic-maintained school, should it proceed, would have no impact on whether the pursuit of a controlled integrated school is successful. CCMS will assist DE in supporting the provision of integrated education, as appropriate and, CCMS will continue to liaise with EA, DE, the school and NICIE, as required.
“The proposal to close Seaview Primary School from 31 August 2021, or as soon as possible thereafter, will not interfere with the rights of stakeholders to proceed with establishing a proposal in regard to integrated education.”