Edmund Rice College earmarked in merger plan

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A MAJOR review in the provision of Catholic education could see Glengormley’s Edmund Rice College amalgamate with other schools in the north Belfast area.

The Northern Ireland Commission for Catholic Education (NICCE) has published its report containing recommendations for every one of the sector’s post primary schools.

Decreasing pupil numbers along with soaring budgets and increasing debt has prompted recommendations for school closures, amalgamations and the opening of new facilities.

The sweeping changes proposed aim to create a new network of “all-ability” schools removing the necessity for transfer tests.

While the review is only a starting point, it has recommended merging seven schools in north Belfast, including Edmund Rice College, to create four facilities.

Announcing the radical proposals, Cardinal Sean Brady said it was “for the better” and would provide “more sustainable education” but admitted “hard decisions” would have to be made.

Teachers’ unions have criticised the omission of a deadline for the ending of academic selection and the lack of detail contained in the report about school groupings or a timescale for the changes.

The proposals will be considered by school trustees and be put forward for public consultation before Education Minister John O’Dowd makes the final decision in each case.

The Times attempted to contact staff at Edmund Rice College, but the school is on its half-term break.