Christmas wish comes true as Clintyclay wins survival fight.

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Christmas wish comes true as Clintyclay wins survival fight. thumbnail

CHRISTMAS has come early for all involved with Clintyclay Primary School after a judge ruled in the school's favour to prevent former Education Minister John O'Dowd from having it closed.

It brings to an end a years long legal wrangle over the Clonmore based school's future.

The school community voted to transform to integrated status in response to a decision by John O'Dowd to close the school.

However, the then Minister persisted in efforts to close the school before Clintyclay took a judicial review against the decision. Judges found in their favour, but the Minister challenged the decision.

However, on Friday past his challenge to the decision was dismissed, allowing the school to remain open.

The current Permanent Secretary for the Department of Education will now make a final decision on the school's future in the new year.

In a statement, the school stated it was "extremely satisfied" with the outcome of the latest round of legal proceedings.

Speaking on behalf of the school, Gerard Cunningham, Chairman of the Board of Governors said: "We are absolutely delighted that the court proceedings hanging over the school have been brought to a successful conclusion.

The decisions of the then Minister John O'Dowd were successfully challenged in Court and quashed. The Department has failed in their attempt to overturn that judgement through appeal and the legal process has now ended.

"Our understanding is that in the absence of a Minister for Education, the Permanent Secretary in the Department will be required to retake new decisions on the two development proposals, namely DP312 to close the school and DP315 to transform the school.

"It is our opinion that as the information contained in and leading toward the development of both proposals is now significantly out of date, and in the case of DP312 shown to be inaccurate, the Permanent Secretary will be unable to approve either proposal.

"I expect the Permanent Secretary to provide clarity as soon as possible by rejecting both outdated Development Proposals clearing the way for any new proposals regarding the school to be brought forward.

"I am delighted to add that we will also be asking the Permanent Secretary for a temporary variance in our Primary 1 intake for September 2018 due to the increasing numbers of children coming to the school.

"We wish to place on record our sincere thanks to everyone who supported us over the last few years. Our school has grown in both numbers and diversity since 2013, while maintaining a healthy financial position and providing an excellent education to all of our pupils.

It has been a difficult few years but ultimately worthwhile and in the best interest of the children of this area."

In another positive development, Dungannon Parish Priest and member of the Council of CCMS (Council for Catholic Maintained Schools), Very Reverend Dean Kevin Donaghy has informed the school and local community that he will recommend that the school is given every support and encouragement in continuing to deliver an outstanding educational experience to the children of today and tomorrow.

Dean Donaghy emphasised the positive attitude toward the school, the significant number of new houses recently constructed in the Clonmore area and proposed future developments, all of which will lead to steady growth in the school population.

He also highlighted that with the other Catholic primary schools in the parish full and an anticipated growth in the Catholic school - going population, further provision for Catholic school children will be essential in the area.

This new positivity coupled with that created by the appointment of Miss Fiona Hampsey, a former Clintyclay pupil, as Principal in September 2017, has led to a 30 per cent increase in the pupil numbers in this academic year alone.

The school is also expected to require a temporary variance to their primary one intake for 2018 to allow them to accept the number of pupils wishing to join the school next year.


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