Education Minister, John O’Dowd, has approved a development proposal to increase capacity at St Colman’s Primary School, Annaclone, Co Down.
The school’s capacity will increase from 134 to 161 pupils from September 1, 2014 or as soon as possible after that date. Its admission number will also increase from 17 to 23 pupils.
The decision was welcomed by St Colman’s principal Mr Donaghy, who said: “We are absolutely delighted with the decision and pleased that the minister has acted so quickly.
“We had great support from parents in the local community and wider area, support from Banbridge Council and also from politicians including SDLP MP Margaret Ritchie and MLA John McAllister. I would like to express thanks everyone who helped us in this campaign.
“School intake is a very stressful time for parents, especially when they hear there are more applications than places available. Parents begin to worry as they want their child to be at the local school and certainly don’t want them to end up separated from friends.
“Thankfully we did not have to turn anyone away last year, but that was only because of protests from parents which resulted in the department making an allowance for temporary variation in our numbers. The same would have happened again this year had the minister not approved this proposal.”
Commenting on the decision, Mr O’Dowd said: “The evidence shows that there is a consistent and increasing demand for maintained primary school places in the Annaclone area. An increase in the approved enrolment at St Colman’s in line with the development proposal, will help cater for this demand.
“The Council for Catholic Maintained Schools (CCMS) will be responsible for ensuring that any expansion at St Colman’s will not have a detrimental impact on admissions to existing maintained primary schools in the wider area.
“The proposal is also consistent with the area planning proposals contained in the Southern Education and Library Board Primary Area Plan. Taking all of the relevant information into account, I am content to approve this development proposal.”