Cash injection is good news for local schools

Big welcome for funding boost: Pupils Molly McCotter and Adam McCann with vice-principal Ciara Cruiks and principal Paul Flanagan at St Bernard's PS. INNT 43-050-FP
Big welcome for funding boost: Pupils Molly McCotter and Adam McCann with vice-principal Ciara Cruiks and principal Paul Flanagan at St Bernard's PS. INNT 43-050-FP

Three Newtownabbey schools are set to benefit from a multi-million pound funding package announced by Education Minister John O’Dowd.

Belfast High, Ballyclare Secondary and St Bernard’s Primary are among 50 schools across Northern Ireland which have been given the go-ahead for major improvement projects thanks to the £106million School Enhancement Programme (SEP).

The schools will benefit from refurbishment or extension projects, each valued at between £500,000 and £4million.

Making the announcement, Mr O’Dowd said: “This is good news for the pupils, staff and school communities involved, as well as being a welcome boost for the local construction industry.”

Paul Flanagan, principal of St Bernard’s Primary in Glengormley, is delighted that the school has secured approval to proceed with its application for a £2million capital investment programme, which includes plans for new classrooms, work to extend existing classrooms and essential rewiring work.

The school is almost 50 years old, and Mr Flanagan says the cramped conditions are a problem that must be addressed, especially given the fact that the school is oversubscribed and continuing to grow.

“It’s about bringing the school up to meet present day standards and this injection of new money will help put the school on a very firm footing to be able to deliver quality education provision in the future,” he said.

Lynn Gormley, principal of Belfast High, revealed that the school has submitted a bid for construction of a new sports hall.

“I am delighted to report that the school has been successful and this project has been moved forward to the planning stage. This facility will greatly enhance our sports provision,” she commented.

Ballyclare Secondary’s application for a multi-million pound extension scheme could see a number of much-needed new classrooms constructed at the school within the next couple of years.