Report ‘challenging controlled myths’

Principal Heather Murray
Principal Heather Murray

A new report on schools in the controlled sector, which is the first of its kind, has dispelled many misconceptions, a Portadown principal has said.

Heather Murray, principal of Millington PS, was speaking after the launch of the research by The Controlled Schools’ Support Council (CSSC).

Both she and recently retired Killicomaine JHS principal Hugh McCarthy are members of the council.

The report found that 66 per cent of pupils in the sector are Protestant, 10 per cent Catholic, five per cent other Christian, one per cent non-Christian and 18 per cent indicate no religion.

Mrs Murray said, “The religious breakdown of individual controlled schools often reflects their community.

“For example, I know of some controlled schools that have an almost 50/50 religious balance and others that are over 90 per cent Catholic. It is therefore misleading to describe the controlled schools as the ‘Protestant sector’.”

The report points out that controlled schools account for 558 or 48 per cent of all schools in Northern Ireland. The majority of nursery schools, primary schools and special schools in Northern Ireland are controlled with 95 per cent of all special schools belonging to the sector.

The CSSC, which has been in operation for just one year, plans to use this research to tackle some of the challenges facing schools.

Mr McCarthy, who taught in the sector for 45 years, said, “It is already leading to a better understanding of what controlled schools are, the diversity within the sector and the challenges that face teachers and pupils alike, particularly given the lack of funding for education right across the board.”