LURGAN Junior High School was flagged as a Level 3 school. The audit noted that the pupil:teacher ratio indicated scope for movement on class structure and reducing teaching costs. A projected decrease of 60 pupils was estimated at the school.
A modernisation of the Craigavon Two Tier System is to be considered to address LJHS’s unviability.
Lurgan Junior High School Principal Joseph Johnston said he would welcome a restructuring of the system. He also welcomed plans by the department to change the funding formula at schools.
At the minute post-primary schools with enrolments of less than 500 in Years 8 to 12 get financial protection on a sliding scale depending on how many pupils they have under 500.
Mr Johnston said a level playing field was needed to enable large schools like the Junior High to secure more money per pupil.
He said it was important to make public the findings of an SELB Economic Appraisal on the future of post-primary controlled provision in Lurgan so that it can form a starting point for discussions on the way forward.
Brownlow College got a Level 3 rating for having less than 500 pupils in Years 8 to 12.
It was noted in the audit that Brownlow College has unique issues because of the fact that it is an 11-16 non-selective Controlled Integrated School operating within an area where the predominant provision is through the Craigavon Two Tier System.
Brownlow Principal Stephen Creber said: “We are disappointed that the audit has not used the most up to date information with regard to educational experience. In 2011, 60% of Brownlow’s Year 12 pupils obtained at least five GCSEs A* to C grades.
“In line with many non selective schools in the area there is a decline in enrolment linked to the demographic downturn in the number of post primary aged pupils. However, when we look at numbers in the future it is clear that numbers rise and we must be prepared for this.
“In preparation for this we hope that we will be granted permission by the department for having a sixth form linked with the area board planning process, giving parents and pupils who have opted for integrated education the opportunity to continue their education in the Craigavon area in an integrated school, rather than having to move away for their sixth form studies.”
He added: “Like most schools we are finding the current financial climate challenging. The Board of Governors are working closely with the Southern Education and Library Board to ensure the College remains viable for many years to come.
“The vision for Northern Ireland is a ‘Shared Future’ and Brownlow Integrated College has a very important role to play in the Craigavon area in helping this vision come to fruition. Brownlow provides the opportunity for all young people to be educated together in one school.”
Two post-primary schools in the maintained sector also received a Level 3 rating.
St Paul’s Junior High School was red flagged for having less than 40% of students achieving five A* to C grades at GCSE from 2007 to 2010 and having less than 25% of students achieving five A* to C grades at GCSE including English and Maths in both 2009 and 2010.
The school was also highlighted for having less than 500 pupils in Years 8 to 12.
St Paul’s principal Sean Flanagan said at Keystage 4 (Year 11 and 12), the top 50 to 60 per cent of pupils transfer to St Michael’s Grammar School.
He added: “Because of the structure of this school it is inevitable when judged academically we will always be in the borderline zone.
“Pupils learn in different ways and at different rates. Pupils at St Paul’s make significant progress which is not reflected when academic benchmarks are applied.”
St Mary’s Junior High School was in the red over it’s low percentage of students achieving five A* to C grades at GCSE including English and Maths in both 2009 and 2010.
The principal of St Mary’s was contacted by the ‘MAIL’ with regards the Viability Audit, but had not responded at the time of going to press. It’s understood St Mary’s suffer from a similar fate as St Paul’s when academic benchmarks are applied.