Third attempt to close St Mary's High School, Brollagh

By Robbie Meredith
BBC News NI Education Correspondent

  • Published
St Mary's High School in BrollaghImage source, Google
Image caption,
St Mary's High School in Brollagh has been saved from closure on two occasions

A third attempt is to be made to close a County Fermanagh secondary school.

St Mary's High School in Brollagh was first threatened with closure in 2014 but the then education minister John O'Dowd decided it should stay open.

He wanted it to enter into partnership with post-primary schools across the border in Donegal. A further attempt to close the school was halted in 2017.

The Council for Catholic Maintained Schools (CCMS) has now proposed the school should close in August 2020.

A detailed case for the proposal by CCMS has been published by the Education Authority (EA).

The school is about two miles from Belleek and 25 miles from Enniskillen.

'Neither feasible or sustainable'

The number of pupils in the school has decreased from 136 in 2012 to 90 in the current school year.

Image caption,
Former education minister John O'Dowd halted a previous plan to close the school

That is far below the 500 pupils recommended in the Department of Education's sustainable schools policy.

"It is anticipated there will not be any increased short, medium or long term demand in the area to impact the enrolment numbers significantly," CCMS said.

"In CCMS's opinion the needs of the pupils will be better served by attending a larger school, with the associated benefits."

The school is also running a financial deficit of more than £1.6m.

CCMS said that pupils in St Mary's High School would be able to attend alternative schools in Enniskillen in future.

Consultation to take place

The previous cross-border proposal was also looked at again by CCMS but they said there was no evidence that would be "feasible or sustainable".

Parents have previously opposed closure plans and have also said that they are exploring whether St Mary's can transform to become an integrated school.

They also protested in September 2018 when the EA withdrew free bus passes from a number of pupils.

Parents, pupils, teachers and governors have already been informed of the revised CCMS plan to close the school.

However, a formal consultation will have to take place before the closure is approved.