Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Disappointment for St. Joseph’s Boys School as post-16 provision delayed

GCSE students at St. Joseph’s Boys High School in Newry have been left bitterly disappointed after being left with no A-Level options at the school for this coming academic year.

Earlier this year the school had revealed its plans to develop A-Level education at the secondary school and a co-operative A-Level structure with St.Paul’s High School had been removed in lieu of the new sixth form status. It is believed the fact that the move into sixth form was not implemented for this September left some St.Joseph’s GCSE students – who had not applied to any other schools for their post-16 education – in a state of limbo.

The school’s Principal, Declan Murray, said that staff and Governors had worked “incredibly hard” towards implementing post-16 provision for the pupils for the upcoming semester but that the need for a development proposal and a public consultation meant they were unable to achieve that goal.

Acknowledging and sharing the disappointment of parents and pupils, Mr Murray said the school and its governors “sorely regret” being unable to provide sixth form education this year but said the matter was outside of their control.  He confirmed that, despite the latest delay,  they remained dedicated to achieving the goal of being an 11-18 year old school and pledged to offer its GCSE students the best possible support and guidance to find suitable placements for the coming year.

The Principal reiterated that all pupils were encouraged to have a second option for A-Level study and to make an application to Southern Regional College and explained that the decision on the removal from the St.Paul’s criteria was made by the Board of Governors in light of their plans to provide sixth form study.  In addition, he said that the Board of Governors were not aware until this academic year that this was part of the entrance criteria for another school and they never asked for it to be included.

The Council for Catholic Maintained Schools (CCMS) has confirmed it is currently working with St.Joseph’s Boys High School to develop a proposal to allow the school to offer post 16 provision to students.  A CCMS spokesperson said the proposal would be subject to a public consultation which should take place over the coming months, with the final decision resting with the Education Minister.