Schools to benefit from £134m building boost

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More than 30 Northern Ireland secondary schools are to benefit from a multi-million pound building initiative.

While the schools are in urgent need of new bricks and mortar, there is not enough cash to fund complete re-builds. 

Instead, the education minister John O’Dowd and his department say they must do more with the existing estate.

With this in mind, he is rolling out his School Enhancement Programme (SEP), which is designed to allow the refurbishment or extension of existing school buildings. Each project is valued at between £500,000 and £4 million and there is a potential £134 million available.

Priority is given to projects aimed at facilitating amalgamation or rationalisation in support of the area-based planning.

Integrated, Catholic and state-controlled secondary schools across the North will all benefit.

They include Slemish College in Ballymena, St Patrick’s Academy in Lisburn, Saintfield High School and Ballyclare Secondary School.

Numerous grammar post-primary providers will also receive funds.

“Continued investment in our schools estate is essential if we are to help support our teaching staff to deliver a quality education to our children and young people,” Mr O’Dowd said.

“Since taking up my post I have given approval to proceed with 40 new school-build projects representing an investment in the region of £350 million. However, I have previously made it clear that the limited capital budget available means that we also need to do more with the existing estate.”

The projects have now received the necessary approvals and design work will commence immediately.

Mr O’Dowd adds that the investment will help to improve existing facilities and enable structural changes in the successful schools.

“It is good news for the pupils, staff and wider communities of the schools due to benefit from this significant investment and will be welcomed as a much-needed boost to the construction sector over the coming years,” he added.

   


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