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Bessbrook school allowed to admit extra pupils after entrance upset

Education Minister John O’Dowd has granted a temporary variation to St Paul’s High allowing for the admission of extra students into the school for Year 8.

And the news has been welcomed by Newry and Armagh MP Mickey Brady, who said the move was a perfect example of “team Sinn Fein delivering for people on the ground”.

He commented: “Following the lengthy application process for applying to Post- Primary schools our offices and councillors were inundated with calls from parents who were deeply upset that their children had not received a place in St Paul’s, a school with an excellent reputation.

“Along with my colleagues Megan Fearon MLA and Conor Murphy we met with the Minister and representatives of his department to explain the extenuating circumstances in St Paul’s and to put the case forward for admission numbers to the school to be increased.

“I’m delighted to be able to report that Minister O’Dowd has now granted the school a temporary variation in admissions numbers allowing for an extra 24 places in Year 8.

“This means the school will now be able to accommodate all applications that met the conditions laid out in sub-categories A(2) and A(3).

“I’m also happy to say that following months of lobbying by Sinn Fein representatives the Board of Governors have assured us that they are to review the entrance criteria to ensure that a similar problem does not arise next year.

“I want to extend my congratulations to St Paul’s and to all its new pupils. In many ways St Paul’s has been a victim of its own success in this regard; it now has such an exemplary reputation that parents are understandably keen for their children to go there, leading to it being over-subscribed every year.

“This is clearly a ringing endorsement of non-selective education and the wonderful community service offered by this school.

“I would also like to thank the school and all the parents involved for bringing this issue to our attention and their patience while we worked to resolve it.

“Finally, I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to Minister John O’Dowd who took on board all our concerns and acted as promptly as possible.

“St Paul’s, its staff and most importantly, its pupils, continue to be a tremendous asset to and representation of the area and Sinn Fein will continue to support them in any way we can.”

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