Schools merger ‘unlikely’ until 2015

Possible site for the new Abbey Community College: Monkstown Community School, Bridge Road.

Possible site for the new Abbey Community College: Monkstown Community School, Bridge Road.

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The merger of Monkstown Community School and Newtownabbey Community High is unlikely to happen until September 2015, it has been confirmed.

Last month the Education Minister gave the go-ahead for the amalgamation of the two schools “from September 1, 2014, or as soon as possible thereafter.” However, with the North Eastern Education and Library Board (NEELB) still to make a decision on whether the new school will be sited in Monkstown or Rathcoole, it’s likely that the merger won’t take place until next year.

Staff and governors at Monkstown and Newtownabbey Community High have stressed that they are keen to get on with the merger, but are awaiting the Board’s decision on the site of the new school, which will be called Abbey Community College (see story in this week’s Times).

The interim board of governors, made up of governors from both schools, have already met to discuss the process for selecting the site of the new school and to consider staffing structures. They held a second meeting on Wednesday, April 9, while teaching staff from both schools met with Board officials the following day.

Confirming that the schools are “unlikely” to merge this year, a spokesperson for the NEELB said that a decision on the preferred site for the new school won’t be taken until after the local government election on May 22.

“Correspondence has been received from the Department of Education regarding decision making in the period up to the forthcoming elections in May. As a consequence it is unlikely that the matter of the site for the new school will be resolved until after the election.

“The interim board of governors have spoken about the process to select the site, and this matter, with full knowledge of the interim board and the schools, is due to be considered by the Board in May 2014,” she explained.

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