A new Integrated post primary school in the Mid Down area to accommodate 600 pupils is set to open in September 2024 or as soon as possible thereafter.
The Development Proposal was submitted in 2021 by a Parental Steering Group and the approval follows a period of public consultation.
The new Mid Down Integrated College will replace Blackwater Integrated College on a less restricted site.
Tim Jackson and Frances Lowry, Co-Chairs of Mid Down Integrated College Steering Group said: “This is incredibly exciting news, and we cannot state how delighted we are with this decision to grow Integrated Education in the Mid Down area. Many, many people have supported us with their time, expertise and good will to get the proposal to this stage and we are truly grateful. There is much to do but we are thrilled to be such a significant step forward on this important journey.”
Stephen Taylor, Principal of Blackwater Integrated College said: “Governors, staff and students welcome the approval of a new Integrated post primary school in Mid Down. I would like to thank the members of the Mid Down Integrated Steering Group, the NI Council for Integrated Education and the Integrated Education Fund who have all worked tirelessly over the last four years to bring forward this proposal.
Due to the limitations of our current site, Blackwater Integrated College can’t expand as we need to and the new school provides a much-needed solution for this as well as meeting the needs of families new to Integrated Education. We are excited about the future and the massive benefits the new school will provide children of all abilities and backgrounds in the local and surrounding areas including increased Integrated provision and a new provision for post-16 learning.”
“Blackwater Integrated College is committed to working with the Department of Education to bring the proposal to reality and our staff, parents and students look forward to the opportunity to become an integral part of the establishment of the new college. There will be no disruption to our pupils’ education as we move forward with the process and we will work closely with parents to keep them informed of all plans and decisions throughout each stage. It is an exciting time for Blackwater Integrated College and we look forward to opening the new school in September 2024 or as soon as possible thereafter,” Stephen concluded.
Roisin Marshall, Chief Executive of the Northern Ireland Council for Integrated Education shared her joy at the news of the approval for a new Integrated College in Mid Down. “This will ensure that some of the unmet demand in the area is addressed and an Integrated pathway from Preschool to Primary and on to an 11-18 Post-Primary College will now be a real option for parents.”
Tina Merron, Chief Executive IEF, commented: “The Integrated Education Fund is absolutely delighted that all the hard work of Mid Down Integrated College Steering Group has finally paid off and we look forward to supporting the Group in establishing the new Integrated College.”