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Education Minister John O'Dowd praises ‘outstanding work’ of special needs staff

By John Mulgrew

The Education Minister has said special schools across Northern Ireland are doing an “outstanding job” following a visit to one school yesterday.

John O’Dowd spent the day at the Castle Tower Special School in Ballymena where he had the chance to meet pupils as well as teachers and parents.

It was the minister’s first school visit since his announcement in the Assembly last week that school closures could be on the horizon as part of his overhaul of the education system.

He said special schools were doing an “outstanding job working with and nurturing children and young people” with “complex additional needs”.

Mr O’Dowd said: “It has been a pleasure to visit Castle Tower Special School today and see for myself the excellent work being carried out here. It is clear that the pupils are happy at the school.”

The school, which was opened in 2007, is currently based on three campuses, but with additional funding would prefer to move to a single location.

The minister said that along with the “high quality of education” children and young people at the Co Antrim school were also able to benefit from a range of extra services and schemes.

“These schemes include a breakfast club which has been put in place as part of the school’s effort to promote health awareness, as well as a lunchtime fitness club which encourages pupils to participate in physical activities.

“Other services include an aromatherapy club which provides therapeutic benefits such as relaxation and stress reduction.”

He congratulated all those involved with what he said were “very worthwhile schemes”.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph