Collegiate describes schools merger plan as being flawed

Published: 18 Oct 2012 13:000 comments

A meeting this week at the Enniskillen Collegiate Grammar School heard that the ultimate goal for changes to Fermanagh's post-primary schools is the creation of one large all-ability school serving the controlled sector.

Share this image

At the information evening on Tuesday evening, the case for change was challenged.

The changes being proposed -- in the Western Education and Library Board's Strategic Area Plan -- are out to consultation and this closes next Friday, October 26.

The plan proposes:

* a new replacement school on the Portora site for an amalgamated Collegiate and Portora with an enrolment of 900 pupils.

* a new school on the Tempo Road to replace Devenish College and Lisnaskea High School with an enrolment of 800.

* a new replacement Special school co-located with Devenish College on the Tempo Road site for Willowbridge School.

But those attending the Collegiate meeting were sceptical that funding and negative ministerial approaches to academic selection would mean three new builds would be highly unlikely.

"There is no clarity about the capacity of these proposals to deliver the much-needed capital investment. The rationalisation of the Duke of Westminster School did not secure the new build for Devenish College. Eight years later our community is being asked again to accept yet further rationalisation. The meeting was sceptical that in the current financial climate money would be found to fund effectively the three new builds in these proposals: in addition, given the Minister's negative stance on academic selection the view was expressed from the floor that the ultimate goal is in fact one large all-ability school," said a spokesperson.

What was described as a "sterile emphasis on numbers" was challenged and the need to reduce surplus places in the sector was questioned.

The meeting heard by 2025, there will be 1,848 pupils in the controlled/voluntary sector but in the two schools there will only be 1,700 places. Currently, 1,000 pupils access the Collegiate and Portora while in the new model there will be 100 fewer places, it was suggested.

Concern was expressed that "the narrow focus on compliance with the numerical requirements of 24 courses at GCSE and 27 courses at post-16 was being used as a lever to close schools".

"The crucial debate around the diversity of curricular pathways required to meet the needs of all young people and of our economy is sidestepped. Concern too was expressed that the work of Fermanagh Learning Community where schools from all sectors work together to develop and extend the curriculum in a meaningful way is ignored in this area plan. Instead there are effectively two separate plans and the opportunity to enhance the quality of provision building on existing strengths on a shared basis is missed," said the spokesperson.

Principal Miss Elizabeth Armstrong said that the Collegiate's rejection of this plan and of the process which led to it did not come from a negative resistance to change.

"The Board of Governors of the Collegiate believe that the case for change as identified in this plan and in the Minister of Education's wider policy agenda is seriously flawed and must be challenged for the sake of our current and future generations of young people in Northern Ireland and for the sake of Northern Ireland itself," she said.

She went on to emphasise that, in seeking a better way forward, the Collegiate remained committed to maintaining and improving its record of service to the community.

She also reaffirmed the school's commitment to working with all the other schools within the controlled/voluntary sector as well as on a cross-sectoral basis in a spirit of mutual respect and collaboration to ensure that the post-primary provision in County Fermanagh is the very best it can be.

She called on those who have the ultimate responsibility for the policies and processes at local and at Northern Ireland level to create the right climate for a positive, inclusive and measured debate about the future of education.

Those who spoke from the floor called on all of the schools in the controlled/voluntary sector to stand together in their rejection of these proposals.

The consultation document on the WELB Fermanagh Area Plan is available at

It may be completed on-line or downloaded and returned to WELB Planning and Development Section, 1 Hospital Road, Omagh, BT 79 OAW by Friday, October 26.

Jump to first paragraph.


comments powered by Disqus

Get more stories from our Roundup section

20 Apr 2014 19:00

'We want to do it for the supporters' - Davy Black

Clogher Valley coach David Black has vowed to make up for their All Ireland Junior Cup Final defeat by winning the Ulster Towns’ Cup for their supporters when they take on Donaghadee at Ravenhill on Easter Monday.


20 Apr 2014 15:00 • Julie Kenwell

Family ‘sick of thought’ of third round of heart surgery for Alfie

THE family of Bellanaleck toddler, Alfie Keys are nervously looking ahead to this September.

Social: Comments0 comments

20 Apr 2014 13:00 • Editorial Department

Trust identifies ‘extreme risks’ that could kill patients

Extreme risks have been identified by the Western Trust which could “compromise client safety” or even lead to “injury or death of patients or staff”.

Social: Comments0 comments

20 Apr 2014 09:00 • Editorial Department

‘End of an era’ for Leslie and McCrea family

Tempo Primary’s long serving caretaker - whose family has a long connection with the Fermanagh school - was paid a warm tribute at the start of the school’s Easter Holidays.

Social: Comments0 comments

19 Apr 2014 21:00 • Brian Donaldson

First election nominations made at Townhall

The countdown to the first election for seats on the new Fermanagh and Omagh District Council on May 22 has begun with the first candidates nominating at Enniskillen Townhall this week.

Social: Comments0 comments

19 Apr 2014 17:10

Mallards gain another crucial point in safety battle

Ballinamallard took another step closer to safety as they claimed a share of the spoils at home to Ballymena today.


19 Apr 2014 15:00 • Meadhbh Monahan

Leading anti-fracker believes local protesters are on the right track

Founder of Frack Free Sussex and Britain and Ireland Frack Free, Vanessa Vine visited Enniskillen last Saturday to discuss the local anti-fracking campaign.

Social: Comments0 comments

19 Apr 2014 13:00 • Editorial Department

Road rage car chase for boxing champ who turned away from possible fight

A boxing champion shied away from a fight with a man over twice his age only to become embroiled in a road rage incident.


19 Apr 2014 11:00 • Editorial Department

Milk suppliers assured that Society is debt free

The forty-eight former Fivemiletown milk suppliers have been assured that Fivemiletown and Brookeborough Co-operative and Agricultural Dairy Society (the Society) is debt free and that they will “continue to be paid”.

Social: Comments0 comments

19 Apr 2014 09:00 • Rodney Edwards

Elliott votes against bill on powers for new Super Councils

ULSTER Unionist MLA Tom Elliott has joined his party colleagues in voting against the Local Government Bill, the legislation that sets out the powers of the new Super Councils. Mr. Elliott spoke of his concern around community planning ahead of the amalgamation which will see 26 Councils merge into 11, including the amalgamation of Fermanagh District Council and Omagh District Council


19 Apr 2014 08:30

Police name motorcyclist killed in Fivemiletown crash

Police can confirm that a male motorcyclist has died following a two vehicle road traffic collision on the Belfast Road in Fivemiletown last night, Friday 18 April.


18 Apr 2014 22:00 • Rodney Edwards

Orange audit: 93 per cent believe Catholics ‘suspicious’ of order

A MAJOR survey into the Orange Order in Fermanagh has found that 92.8 per cent of people who took part in the project believe Catholics are “suspicious” of the organisation.

Social: Comments0 comments

18 Apr 2014 19:00

'We have a big eight days ahead of us' - Anderson

By 5pm on Saturday April 26 all the decisions will be made in the Danske Bank Premiership and Championship One. The destination of the title will be decided and who is going down or which teams are facing a play off will be known.


18 Apr 2014 17:00 • Rodney Edwards

Enterprise Minister disagrees with keeping Aventas Group all locally owned

ENTERPRISE Minister Arlene Foster says she cannot support the view of local political representatives, including her DUP colleague Maurice Morrow, that the Aventas Group in Derrylin must remain exclusively locally owned.

Social: Comments0 comments

18 Apr 2014 15:00 • Editorial Department

Tweets of the Week - did you make it?

Charlie Lawson @charlie_lawson1 I’m reliably informed that my alter ego and constant companion is to return, so he is. Must contact The Home Secretary to confirm.

Social: Comments0 comments

18 Apr 2014 13:00 • Editorial Department

Foster vows to take school merger to the Assembly

“I am not powerless, I will fight this,” declares Stormont Minister Arlene Foster as she reflects on the fall-out over the proposal by the Western Education and Library Board to amalgamate Portora Royal School with Collegiate Grammar School.

Social: Comments0 comments

18 Apr 2014 11:00 • Lily Dane

Those were the days: Miss Derryclavin Selected

This image “Miss Derryclavin” Selected was featured in The Impartial Reporter on April 16, 1964.

Social: Comments0 comments

18 Apr 2014 08:30

Depression is an illness, mourners told at Kenny Andrews funeral

MOURNERS at the funeral of Brookeborough man Kenneth Andrews who died unexpectedly last week were told that the 47-year-old had been fighting a private battle with depression.


17 Apr 2014 19:00 • Rodney Edwards

#fermanaghspake This Week is...

‘I’m not half well’

Social: Comments0 comments

17 Apr 2014 18:06 • Rodney Edwards

Would-be Unionist politician admits Catholic Facebook question was 'badly worded'

A would-be politician seeking a seat in the new Fermanagh and Omagh Council for the Ulster Unionist Party has defended himself for a second time following comments he made on Facebook.