Published Friday, 10 August 2012
The school will be fully closed from next August. (© Getty)
The maintained post-primary school for boys is situated in the Foyle area of Derry.
The school opened in 1971 with an enrolment of 1,000, enrolment for 2011/2012 was 170.
The school will be closed on a phased basis with no admissions to Years 8 or 11 in September and the complete closure of the school from 31 August next year.
The Western Education and Library Board made the proposal in May at the request of the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools (CCMS).
"For over 40 years, St Peter's High School has played a valuable role in the education of young men from the Creggan area of Derry," Mr O'Dowd commented.
"However, demographic decline over recent years has, as in many areas across the north, adversely impacted on enrolments, with only 170 pupils enrolled in the school in 2011/2012.
He said a "compelling argument" for closure was made by the school trustees and the decision was in "the best educational interests of the young people attending St Peter's".
He added: "I have approved the Trustees' proposal of a phased closure to ensure minimal disruption to the education of the children concerned and I wish them all the best in the future.
"I would also like to pay tribute to all those connected with St Peter's High School, who over many years have shown their commitment and dedication to the school and its pupils."
Brendan Harron, senior official at the Irish National Teacher's Organisation said they regretted seeingany school closing but their priority now was ensuring teachers' jobs are secure.
"We're very confident that all the teachers that are left will be redeployed by September," he said.
Derry Mayor Cllr Kevin Campbell said it was disappointing that the admissions for the school were lower than the target of 100 'new students' required each year, in order for the school to sustain itself in terms of demographics and finance.
"St Peter's High School has served the community of Creggan for over 40 years and the staff and all of those connected to the school should be proud of their dedication and hard work in the education of many fine young men in this city," he said.
"I think it offers an opportunity for the other educational institutions, not only the Catholic educators, to benefit from this."
He confirmed that the Board had entered a consultation period early on with all staff at the school to minimise job losses and all staff are in an ongoing process of taking up retirement or being relocated.