Northern Ireland

Armagh shared school campus plan now unlikely

St Patrick's
Image caption St Patrick's has decided to redevelop its current site

A large shared school campus in Armagh is unlikely to go ahead, the BBC has learned.

One factor is the decision to close a Catholic secondary school and to send its pupils to the grammar school. That announcement is expected shortly.

Some of those behind the campus plan are said to be bitterly disappointed.

The chance of government funding for a joint campus gave some school authorities the hope of bringing schools of all sorts to a new site.

However, it now seems that the planned location, a former hospital, is not available.

St Patrick's Grammar School has now decided to redevelop its current site, rather than move to a joint campus.

The available funding will be for shared facilities and not just shared campuses.

Now the Department of Education has agreed to the closure of the Catholic boys secondary school, St Brigid's.

St Patrick's Grammar School will in future accept those pupils without academic selection.


Some of the schools say the revamped plan will mean the whole of the city will be a shared campus, but supporters of a single site say they are bitterly disappointed but negotiations are continuing.

Paul Crute, principal of Royal School Armagh said he was disappointed that the shared campus plan was being reconsidered.

"We are disappointed by the negative reporting concerning the future of an educational campus for Armagh. The concept for an educational village evolved from the close association of schools involved in the Armagh area learning community," he said.

"Together with partners including Armagh City and District Council and the Southern Regional College, we have been working on a bid for an educational campus or village for almost two years.

Image caption Royal School Armagh principal Paul Crute was disappointed the shared campus plan was being reconsidered

"We are disappointed that the original plan for a shared educational campus in Armagh has had to be reconsidered as a result of the decision by St Patrick's and St Brigid's not to relocate a new amalgamated school to a site at St Luke's hospital, as previously envisioned.

"However, we will continue to act in the interests of the wider community in Armagh. We believe that although the landscape might have changed, it is not beyond us to work together to reach a compelling solution for shared education in the city, and the Royal School is still committed to working with everyone involved.

"In recent weeks more schools across the City of Armagh have joined the discussion begun by the education and community village consensus and its partners.

"The Royal School will continue to play a role in shaping proposals, and will remain a successful selective and boarding school drawing pupils from the wider community of Armagh city, county and beyond."


A spokesman from the educational and community village consensus Armagh said all schools and organisations in the area are continuing to work together to achieve an "outcome best for all children in the city and district".

He said: "All partners in the educational and community village consensus Armagh, alongside other schools from across the area, continue to consider how best to take forward the bid for shared education in the city.

"The decision by St Patrick's College not to relocate but remain on its current site does not jeopardise the plan to submit a proposal for shared education in the city.

"It is also worth recognising that St Patrick's Grammar School and St Brigid's High School were always planning to merge, a fact that we have included in every press release since the plan for educational village was first announced in May last year. All schools and organisations continue to work together to achieve an outcome best for all children in the city and district."

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