Schools welcome go-ahead for amalgamation move

Monkstown Community School Principal Nigel Pell-Ilderton.  INNT 44-421-RM
Monkstown Community School Principal Nigel Pell-Ilderton. INNT 44-421-RM

The amalgamation of Monkstown Community School and Newtownabbey Community High to form a new post-primary school could happen as early as next year.

The North Eastern Education and Library Board (NEELB) this week recommended the establishment of a new school for children aged 11- 19 through the merger of the two existing schools. And a Board spokesperson confirmed that if the Area Plan gets the green light from the Education Minister, the new school will be operational from 1 September 2014, or as soon as possible thereafter.

Glengormley High School, which was initially considered under one possible amalgamation option, will continue as an 11-19 school.

An economic appraisal of the current school sites will be conducted by an independent expert to identify where the new school will be located.

“There was strong community support for the establishment of a new 11-19 school for the area. This school will provide an exciting opportunity to meet the needs of pupils in the area into the future and to enable them to achieve their potential,” the NEELB spokesperson commented.

The Board’s decision has been welcomed by staff and governors at both schools, who are particularly pleased that the new school will cater for pupils aged up to 19 years.

Monkstown principal, Nigel Pell-Ilderton commented: “Both schools want this amalgamation and the staff and boards of governors at both schools are 100 per cent behind it. We are really looking forward to working with Newtownabbey to bring the two schools together.

“We are absolutely thrilled that the school in the future, wherever it is, will have a sixth form.”

Monkstown currently has more than 630 pupils, but has space for around 820.

NCHS headmaster, John Lewis added: “We have worked very hard over the past two years, raising pupil performance, attendance, engagement and expectation to record levels.

“The future augers well for the new merged school, which will bring the best of both current schools together to create an exciting, vibrant institution ready to prepare children for 21st century living and learning.”