Isle Of Man / Ellan Vannin

School numbers solution 'dictatorial', claims MHK

St Ninian's High School Image copyright Google
Image caption Only 1,200 pupils attend St Ninian's High School, which has a capacity of 1,600

The education department has been "dictatorial" in addressing an imbalance in pupil numbers at two Douglas secondary schools, an MHK said.

From September, pupils at Scoill yn Jubilee on Laureston Avenue will be able to choose to go to either Ballakermeen or St Ninian's.

However, that choice could be removed if pupil numbers at the secondary schools do not change.

Education minister Graham Cregeen said Ballakermeen was "over capacity".

The issue was raised in the House of Keys by Douglas East MHK Chris Robertshaw.

St Ninian's has a capacity of 1,600, but only 1,209 pupils attend the school, while Balakermeen has 274 more pupils than its capacity of 1,370.

Pupils who attend Scoill yn Jubilee junior school are currently in the catchment area for the over-subscribed school.

'Desired effect'

Mr Robertshaw said the department had "acted in a perfunctory and thoughtless manner, in this instance, towards the parents and children of the school".

He added: "Exactly why is his department becoming so detached and dictatorial?"

Mr Cregeen said that was "the member's opinion", and the issue was about pupil numbers at the schools.

If pupil numbers between the schools did not even out during 2019-20, all pupils from Scoill yn Jubilee would have no choice but to attend St Ninian's from September 2020, Mr Cregeen said.

"We have an issue where we have to be financially responsible, if we do not do something regarding the catchment areas for this school we will have further issues", he added.

"We have been adjusting the numbers at Ballakermeen High School, there's investment going in this year to give them some more capacity for the numbers they've already got."

Mr Cregeen said it was hoped creating a joint catchment area for one year would "have the desired effect" of encouraging more parents to send their children to St Ninian's.

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