TRADERS in Markethill have thrown their weight behind a campaign for the future development of Markethill High School.
Markethill High School principal James Maxwell, who attended a recent breakfast with traders, said the business community understood fully the essential role the school plays.
The school launched a campaign in August for a new build school and sixth form centre, following the launch of the post primary area plan which looks at the reorganisation of the province’s schools. The Board of Governors said they were surprised that an audit of the provision offered by the Southern Regional College in Armagh had not been factored into the area-based proposal in order to help identify potential gaps in post-16 provision.
Over 80 per cent of Markethill High parents have indicated they want a sixth form and more than two thirds of the pupils would choose to stay at the school. In a recent speech, Mr Maxwell said that if Markethill High was to take in more than 550 pupils between the ages of 11-16, whether through natural means or through some of the proposals outlined, it was not appropriate that its pupils would have to leave and go elsewhere at the age of 16.
He added, “If Markethill, for example, was to become a school with 740 pupils at ages 11-16, this would potentially make the school the second biggest controlled non-selective school in the SELB. There are presently seven controlled non-selective schools in the SELB which offer sixth form, four of which are smaller than Markethill High School currently. “Fifty pupils in lower sixth and a further 50 in upper sixth would make us viable, and that is eminently achievable and more. It’s time for Education Minister John O’Dowd to commit to his pledge to allow popular, oversubscribed schools to grow.”