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Education Minister’s decision to close rural primary school quashed

On Friday 27th March 2015 Mr Justice Treacy handed down judgment in the judicial review taken by Clintyclay PS over a decision by John O’Dowd to close the catholic-maintained primary school.

With Clintyclay’s enrolment having dropped below 30 pupils, the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools (CCMS) had proposed that it should close. An alternative proposal advanced by the school’s Board of Governors to change its management to grant-maintained integrated status was rejected.

At the time of his announcement last October the Minister said enrolment numbers meant the school was no longer sustainable. Due to this long-term situation, the Minister stated that transformation to integrated status was not regarded as a feasible option.  It is notable that Clintyclay was the first catholic school in Northern Ireland to attempt to transform to integrated status.

Delivering judgment, Mr Justice Treacy held that the Minister’s decision was ‘infected’ by incorrect financial information that the school was in financial difficulties.  This mistaken belief had significantly influenced the Minister’s decision to close the school without considering its application to transform.  Mr Justice Treacy was critical of the approach taken by the Minister and emphasised how Clintyclay’s attempt to transform its status could have ‘a galvanising impact’ on the integrated sector. 

The Court ordered the Minister to retake the decision.

Click here for an article by the Belfast Telegraph. 

Education, Local Developments, Northern Ireland High Court