‘Delight’ as new Drumcree school gets go-ahead

Pupils of Drumcree College pictured in January at Catholic Schools Week. Included is principal Noella Murray, centre, with Archbishop of Armagh Eamon Martin. INPT12-010

Pupils of Drumcree College pictured in January at Catholic Schools Week. Included is principal Noella Murray, centre, with Archbishop of Armagh Eamon Martin. INPT12-010

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Drumcree College is to close in September when it will be replaced by a new school, St John the Baptist’s College, on the same site.

The news was announced last week and has been greeted with “delight” by the school, which has faced uncertainty about its future for a number of years.

Principal Noella Murray said the school was now “looking forward to launching a new vision for post-primary education in Portadown”.

St John the Baptist’s College will be a Key stage 3 school (11-14 years), as opposed to the current 11-16 years at Drumcree College. However, Mrs Murray said the vision was that the school would in the future be designated an 11-19 school. Until then, children over 14 will attend neighbouring schools, including those in Craigavon and Armagh.

The principal said meetings will be held with all parents after the Easter break to discuss the ‘Managed Pathway’ which will map out plans for the future and provide further information to parents.

In a message to the community, the school said, “The Governors and staff of the school would like to express their gratitude to the wider school community who have supported them and have played a key role in ensuring that Catholic post-primary education has been retained in this area.

“They look forward to working with the community in building a new school which will provide high quality education for all young people in the Portadown area.”

Making the announcement last Thursday, Education Minister John O’Dowd said he had decided that “maintained provision should remain in the locality”.

Sinn Féin councillor Gemma McKenna said, “It is good news for Drumcree, good news for Catholic secondary education provision and good news for Portadown. Many people have been working hard over a long period of years to ensure the survival of the school. I am delighted that the Minister has approved the proposal which effectively will save Drumcree College as an education provider in the area.”

SDLP MLA Dolores Kelly added, “This is a huge win for the parents, staff, children and community. This was a hard fought campaign by everyone and the SDLP remain supportive and wish the college the best for the future.”