Northern Ireland

Petition to save Immaculate Conception College from closure

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Media captionThe Council for Catholic Maintained Schools recommended that the school closed

A petition calling for the reversal of a decision to shut a Derry school earmarked for closure has been handed in to Stormont.

Immaculate Conception College, in the Waterside area, is the only Catholic co-educational school in the area.

Declining pupil numbers led to the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools (CCMS) recommending that it closes.

SDLP MLA Pat Ramsey said it was the last Catholic post-primary school on that side of the city.

"Parents who have approached me feel that if the school closes we will be moving back 30 years, with Catholics being taught on the west bank of the city and Protestants on the east," he said.

"We have worked for many years to devalue the Foyle as a barrier, now we are looking at the possibility of it becoming a boundary where children of Catholic and Protestant faith will be educated largely apart"

A public consultation runs until 10 February on plans to begin closing the school on a phased basis, starting in September.

In a statement, the CCMS said it was "involved in the Department of Education's wider area-planning process to address the many challenges that the sector is currently facing".

"We need to address issues that our schools face through the out-workings of the Department of Education's Sustainable Schools policy," the statement said.

"This includes changing demographics which, in some areas, have led to the need to consider the future of unviable schools where the number of pupils has decreased."

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