Campaign to have special status given to Strabane Academy steps up a gear

The campaign to have special status given to the newly formed Strabane Academy will step up a gear next week, when the Northern Ireland Assembly's Education Committee visits the school on October 26th

The academy was formed when Strabane High School and Strabane Grammar joined together, the first time a Grammar and non-grammar school have merged in this way.

The Interim Board of Governors invited the committee to the school as part of their quest for "Pilot Status", which would open the door to direct funding from Stormont.

The Interim Board of Governors says the meeting on Wednesday of next week will be crucial in the quest for pilot status for Strabane Academy.

Pilot status opens the door for the school to receive direct investment from the Education Department. Strabane Academy Principal David Hampton says it is a unique project, as it is the first time a former secondary school and a grammar school have merged, and there is no model they can follow.

He says he and the board want to ensure that pupils are given the best opportunities possible.

At the moment, he added, the school is able to operate on a satisfactory basis but the granting of pilot status would allow them to address a number of issues more effectively, including extracurricular actives, accommodation, transport and how best to maximise the operation of a school on a split site.

Ultimately, he stressed the goal is a new school on the Derry Road campus, and Pilot Status could be a very important first step in making that happen.