Governors, staff and pupils at Mallusk Primary are celebrating a ministerial decision which should secure the long-term future of the school.
Education Minister John O’Dowd has given the green light for the school to make the switch to controlled integrated status - a move proposed by governors last year in a bid to halt falling enrolments and attract new pupils.
While the Minister’s decision permits the school to change to integrated status from September 1, it’s likely that the transition will take place over the coming year.
“The evidence suggests that following transformation Mallusk Primary School is likely to attract sufficient numbers of pupils to help meet the demand for integrated education in the area,” Mr O’Dowd said.
“This approval to change the status of the school to controlled integrated is the start of the transformation process and I trust the school and all those involved will work to ensure the successful transformation of the school and to ensure its viability.”
The Minister’s decision has been welcomed by the principal and governors of Mallusk Primary, and The Grange of Mallusk Steering Group.
Acting principal Susanne Kinsella commented: “We are delighted with this decision. We can now build on our caring and inclusive ethos and commitment to welcoming pupils from all backgrounds.
“Our school has been at the heart of the local community for almost 80 years, and it will reflect the demographics of the area to have our school transform to integrated status.
“We believe strongly that we can provide a quality, inclusive education for the children of this area.”
Parents Kathryn McVeigh and Heather Fee described the change of status as “a thrilling opportunity to develop the school as an integrated learning environment”, adding that the move will “provide children with the right to learn together and to play their part in building a truly shared future.”
Mrs Kinsella, who thanked the Northern Ireland Council for Integrated Education, school governors, parents and the local community for their continuing support, added: “We extend an invitation to all parents of primary aged children in the area to come to the events we will have in the summer and autumn terms and to contact the school to register interest in enrolling their child. Our dedicated staff will endeavour to make every child’s time at primary school happy, rewarding and successful. We all look forward to welcoming new children into our school family.”
It’s understood discussions have already begun about renaming the school and designs for a new uniform.
The switch to integrated status is likely to take place in 2016 - Mallusk Primary School’s 80th anniversary year.
Welcoming the Minister’s approval announcement, South Antrim MP Danny Kinahan said: “This is great news for the school, for Mallusk and for integrated education.
“The Minister recognised that within reach of Mallusk Primary there are another two integrated schools, one that is oversubscribed and the other with growing admission. This is such a heartening symbol of change in our society and should really be held up as an example of how South Antrim and Northern Ireland are moving on.”
South Antrim DUP MLA Pam Cameron also welcomed the decision, saying: “Through working alongside the North Eastern Education and Library Board and the Department of Education the parents and board of governors have clearly demonstrated the desire and need for integrated education within the Mallusk area.
“I am pleased that their hard work of the last tear has paid off and hope that pupils will continue to benefit from the excellent teaching facilities in the future.”
For further information about the pending changes at Mallusk Primary call Susanne Kinsella on 028 9034 2038.