Groarty Integrated Primary School transformed to become integrated in 2005 and through the dedication of its Board of Governors and staff has contributed well to peace and reconciliation within its community since then. NICIE is disappointed that the Minister has approved the proposal to discontinue integrated primary provision at Groarty Integrated PS as it will remove the potential of 63 integrated places from the city of Derry /Londonderry. This seems to be inconsistent with the duty to encourage and facilitate the growth of Integrated Education which DE holds and has delegated to EA. Area Planning has been set up to plan for creative, innovative and sustainable educational provision. On this occasion, NICIE believes that an opportunity has been missed to demonstrate a creative solution for this area.
In the summer of 2018, NICIE carried out a short exercise over just 2 days, nearly 200 people filled out expression of interest forms for integrated primary provision on the Cityside. NICIE is aware that outline planning permission for 3500 houses has been granted by Derry and Strabane District Council in 2018 and this includes a site for a 14-class base school on the H2 site. Surveying parents using a micropoll or Community Conversation may be useful in ensuring that Area Planning is providing the type of educational provision which the community desires for the H2 site.
NICIE is concerned that options for the sustainable development of Integrated Education involving Groarty such as the shared campus with Gaelscoil na Daróige have not been given adequate consideration. The timing of this proposed closure means that Groarty would play no further part in the development of sustainable educational provision on the H2 site. This would seem particularly unfair given the fact that Groarty had achieved their highest level of admissions for September 2019 before the proposed closure was announced and may in fact have increased this number in future years given the high level of Expressions of Interest forms for years 2020 to 2022.
There are two very successful integrated schools in the Waterside, Oakgrove Integrated Primary and Oakgrove Integrated College. Integrated education continues to grow all over Northern Ireland with an increase of 1600 places over the last three years through the existing schools and three successful transformations of schools to controlled integrated status. In the last two years, parents have voted for the transformation of eight schools children’s existing schools to seek integrated status. NICIE will continue to respond to parental demand for integrated provision in any area.