Looking back... Newtownabbey site for Ulster’s first comprehensive

Northern Ireland’s first comprehensive school was to be located in Newtownabbey, according to a report in the Larne Times in 1965.

The college was expected to draw pupils from intermediate schools such as Hopefield, Glengormley, Rathcoole and Monkstown.

Director of education Kenneth MacCormac said that under a comprehensive system, the “significance of the eleven plus would largely disappear”.

He said that it “would not be a comprehensive school such as they have in England where pupils stay in one building until they leave at 18.”

He added: “Many parents have been worried they would be deprived of the right to send their children to a grammar school but they would still have a choice.

“I have nothing against grammar schools or the eleven plus examination. This scheme would not affect it.

“I want to help the estimated 20 per cent of the 3,000 pupils at the four intermediate schools who go on to higher education through the new college.”

The official indicated that 400 pupils would be “streamed”.

He said that the new college was expected to open with approximately 200 pupils.