Row over emails on school building plans
The Assembly has been asked to intervene after the Department of Education finally announced the outcome of Caitriona Ruane’s eight-month review of schools which have been approved or turned down for new building plans.
A total of 34 out of 67 schools have been told they comply with policy. But there is no guarantee any will be built because the Education Minister has said there is not enough money, unless extra funding is found.
DUP education spokesman Mervyn Storey complained that the schools affected were only given the news by email on the last day of term.
Eight schools have received the devastating news that their plans are ‘not compliant’ with the department’s Sustainable Schools Policy and will not be given the go-ahead — despite previously being approved by the department.
These schools must now “rework” their plans to address school-specific or area issues.
Twenty-six schools have been told they are ‘partially compliant’ — which means issues need to be resolved before the project is considered compliant. And 31 schools received the best news that their projects have been rated ‘fully compliant’ and can go ahead.
However, this may be irrelevant as Ms Ruane warned that no new schools will be built unless she gets additional money from the Executive.
One school given the green light, if funding becomes available, is Irish-medium school Scoil na Fuiseoige in Twinbrook. It said last month it had been told it would not get a new school and campaigned for the minister to change her mind.
It has been estimated that it would cost £500m to complete all the new builds needed at Northern Ireland’s schools.
Mr Storey said: “The minister refused to give any detail of how the process was conducted other than a list of half-baked department policies that were used as terms of reference.
“I still am waiting on a reply to a letter to the minister from the beginning of June when I asked for more detail as to how each school would be judged.
“Serious questions are now being asked by the schools, some that have been waiting almost 20 years for a decision.”
The list of schools affected
Dromore Central PS
Foyle & Londonderry College
Holy Family PS
Holywood Nursery, Holywood PS
and Redburn PS
Omagh Integrated PS
Parkhall Integrated College
Priory Integrated College
Rainey Endowed School
Scoil na Fuiseoige
St Clare’s and St Colman’s PS
St Colman’s PS
St Conor’s PS
St Joseph’s Convent PS
St Joseph’s PS Madden
St Mary’s PS Banbridge
St Patrick’s Academy, Dungannon
Victoria Park PS (Strand & Sydenham)
Corranny and Cornagague PS
Dean Maguirc College
Holy Trinity College, Cookstown
Magherafelt NS & PS
New Buildings PS
St Columba’s PS
St Columbanus’ College
St Columbkille’s PS
St Louis’ Grammar, Kilkeel
St Mary’s PS Newcastle
St Oliver Plunkett PS
St Patrick’s College, Banbridge
St Teresa’s PS Lurgan
The High School, Ballynahinch
Loreto College, Omagh
St Bronagh’s PS
St Patrick’s Grammar, Armagh
SPECIAL SCHOOLS STILL ON |INVESTMENT DELIVERY PLAN:
Arvalee School and Resource Centre, Omagh
Belmont House Special School
Greenwood House Assessment Centre, |Belfast
Knockevin Special School
Mitchell House Special School
Rossmar Special School