School governors meet over planned merger

THE Boards of Governors of both Newtownabbey Community High and Monkstown Community School held their first meeting ahead of their planned amalgamation in September 2014.

Under plans unveiled by the North Eastern Education and Library Board (NEELB) the two schools are set to merge as part of a sustainable education strategy proposed by the Education Minister.

The governors came together after a series of meetings facilitated by the NEELB following the announcement of the key findings of its Area Based Plan consultations.

Following the recommendations they discussed how the amalgamation will work and what the resulting education provision in the area will look like.

Under the proposals the governors must consider if the newly formed school will cater for ages 11 to 16 only, or provide education to the age of 19.

Following the meeting it was agreed to establish a small working group to begin mapping out a way forward.

Both schools’ governors recognised that the proposed merger presents a significant challenge and will involve a period of change and transition.

However, they also see it as an excellent opportunity to shape and create a first class school to benefit all of the children in the Newtownabbey area.

Chair of the Board of Governors at Monkstown Community School, Richard McChesney said: “As governors we are fully committed to providing the best possible education for the children in the area, and as we look to the future and the proposed merger with Newtownabbey Community High School we were delighted to take the opportunity of meeting with their Board of Governors and together starting the dialogue, and the process which will lead to the eventual merger of the two schools.”

Newtownabbey Community High School Board of Governors chairman Billy Snoddy added: “This is a challenging time but also an exciting period being entered into for both current schools and both sets of governors.

“The planned amalgamation provides the NEELB and the combined governors with the opportunity to think creatively and with vision, and to plan for and create, a new school appropriate to the needs of the young people of Newtownabbey for the long term future.

“A key priority of this new school will be to equip young people with the skills and qualifications they require to properly prepare them for adult working life.”

In 2011, the Education Minister, John O’Dowd, commissioned the Education and Library Boards to develop strategic area plans for restructuring education provision across the province.

The main proposal to come from the local consultation was for the merger of Monkstown Community School with Newtownabbey Community High School. The new school formed from the merger would also be closely aligned with Rosstulla Special School.