My Department, in consultation with the Southern Education and Library Board, which is responsible for the planning of school provision in the area, previously agreed a long-term enrolment figure of 740 pupils as appropriate for Dromore High School, based on an annual year 8 intake of 148. However, following a request from the school to introduce post-16 provision, that figure is currently under review.
The long-term enrolment takes account of any development in the area, as well as the number of pupils coming through the primary sector. It is not, however, my Department’s policy to increase the number of places at schools, with the consequential implications for capital expenditure, simply to cater for demand, while places are available in other suitable schools within reasonable distance.
The outcome of the review, and a decision regarding post-16 provision at Dromore High School, will be made known to the board of governors of the school as soon as possible.
There has been much prevarication over the provision of sixth-form places at Dromore High School. The time has come for answers, not further consultation. Every year, 30 children are turned away from the school. The area is scheduled to almost double in population.
The Minister will no longer be a Minister after tonight. I do not know what he turns into after midnight, given his past history. However, it is time that the Department grasped the nettle and provided the places necessary for children in Dromore. The school cannot go on operating with the current intake levels.
My Department’s current policy on new and existing sixth-form provision in secondary schools is to leave such provision to each school’s discretion, providing the school can accommodate it within its existing approved accommodation. My officials are considering the issue and, depending on other priorities, hope to complete the review in the near future.