Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 23 August 2014

School building projects approved

Education Minister John O'Dowd has given the green light to twenty-two school building projects

Twenty-two new school building projects have been approved by the education minister in Northern Ireland.

Work is scheduled to begin on 14 primaries and eight secondaries by 2014 and expected to be worth £220 million.

St Patrick's Academy voluntary grammar in Dungannon is one of the largest schemes given the go-ahead by John O'Dowd.

"The projects are aimed at either addressing serious or substandard accommodation inadequacies, or at effecting agreed rationalisation of the schools estate," he said.

He said the work would address overcrowding and over-reliance on temporary classrooms. The developments will now enter the planning process. Mr O'Dowd approved around a third of applications for new-builds.

He said six projects will involve permanent new-builds for integrated and Irish medium schools currently in temporary accommodation. Fourteen developments are required to deal with previous or planned amalgamations or rationalisation of the schools estate.

The minister told the Assembly authorisation to proceed with construction on each project would be based on the level of funding available at the time.

The Sinn Fein MLA also announced the opening of applications for the School Enhancement Programme, which will be available for refurbishing or extending schools and worth up to £40 million over the next two years.

Mr O'Dowd said: "I do not believe that in a modern forward-looking society that we should accept a situation where children receive their entire primary school education in temporary accommodation, the majority of which is clearly outdated."

He said the announcements provided a potential investment of up to £625 million to the local economy and secured some 6,200 construction jobs.

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