Page last updated at 06:57 GMT, Thursday, 18 March 2010

Catholic schools in Northern Ireland facing mergers

exam sheet
The Catholic Church is preparing for the end of academic selection

Catholic schools are facing mergers and major changes as the church continues its plans for reorganising without academic selection.

People's views are being sought as part of a consultation process.

Catholic parents and schools in five areas will receive brochures on the future of post-primary education.

Authorities want to tackle the end of academic selection, a shortage of pupils and the need for a wider choice of subjects.

In Newry, where there are four single-sex grammar schools, most of the options are for co-educational all-ability schools across the area.

In Armagh city and district, two of the schools - Drumcree College in Portadown and St Brigid's Boys High School in Armagh - do not have the recommended number of pupils.

Four of the five schools need urgent building work.

All the possible options suggest closures of one or more schools and one plan is to have only two schools to replace five, amalgamating the boys grammar and the girls secondary in Armagh city.

In south Armagh, there is only one option, to rebuild the secondary schools in Crossmaglen and Bessbrook.

In west Tyrone, two of the schools don't have the recommended number of pupils.

The commission favours concentrating all-ability schools in Omagh, Carrickmore and Strabane.

In Coleraine, all options offered entail merging the grammar and secondary there into one all-ability school, with the possibility of a sixth-form college.

Another option is to have only one Catholic school for the whole area of Coleraine, Portstewart and Ballymoney.

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