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School report is an ‘opportunity’

By Staff Reporter

St Louise’s College won’t be amalgamating with another school – that’s the message from Principal Carmel McCartan, who was responding to the Northern Ireland Commission for Catholic Education’s report containing recommendations for the future.

In the report, the Commission recommends the development of St Louise’s to co-educational status. Mrs McCartan has since met with the school’s Board of Governors to discuss the issue, and describes the recommendation as an “opportunity”.

“St Louise’s College has a noble ethos and value system which is firmly grounded in authentic, Catholic social teaching,” she said.  “We are passionately committed to academic excellence for all young people without the need for selection at the tender age of 11.  The bedrock of our achievements is a value system which promotes academic excellence for all, equality of opportunity, social justice, inclusion, service and the common good.  In our all-ability centre of excellence our high value-added examination outcomes consistently demonstrate that all young people can learn successfully together without the need for an unjust system which contravenes Catholic social teaching. In response to the Northern Ireland Commission for Catholic Education report, we welcome the recommendation to consult with key stakeholders regarding the phased development of co-educational provision on our site.  As a specialist college we have had successful curricular collaboration with other schools for the last six years.  Furthermore, our post-16 provision has been enriched by the inclusion of boys in our Sixth Form.  It is important to stress that this proposal is predicated on the basis of boys who wish to avail of a co-educational model of provision, making applications in line with established transfer criteria at the age of eleven or at post-16 in terms of accessing suitable courses.  Saint Louise’s College will not be amalgamating with any other school.”

Mrs McCartan  said the proposals were an opportunity to continue to provide “high quality education to all young people in our community, irrespective of gender, race, religious affiliation or social background”.

“We will continue to strive tirelessly to ensure that the unique gifts and talents of each young person are valued and developed in our all-ability  centre of excellence. This is the only way in which we can successfully meet the challenges made explicit in the preface of the PPR report, namely, ‘to give all young people the opportunity to access excellence and wide, relevant curricular opportunities in modern schools that are sustainable and develop a system that prioritises pupils’ needs’.

“At this critical time in the future of Catholic education we urgently call on our Church, decision-makers, civic society and colleagues in the selective sector to demonstrate the courage and vision needed to create a network of high quality, all-ability, sustainable 11 to 19 schools firmly grounded in authentic Catholic social teaching. Future generations will judge us very harshly indeed if self-preservation and existing institutional interests continue to dominate the model of post-primary Catholic education throughout the North of Ireland.”

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