£60m building boost will benefit 25 NI schools
Twenty-five schools across Northern Ireland will benefit from a shared £60m investment boost through a government programme.
The School Enhancement Programme, which was established in June 2012, provides financial support for capital projects valued at between £500,000 and £4m.
The second call for projects opened in January 2017 and encouraged applications addressing immediate and pressing accommodation needs in schools.
Primary, post-primary and special schools are set to benefit from the funding injection.
Department of Education Permanent Secretary, Derek Baker, said further schools could be approved in the future.
"The purpose of the school enhancement programme is to ensure that we provide the best possible education estate for our children and young people, within the budget that is available," he said.
"With this in mind I have given approval to progress the first 25 projects through the business case, design and planning stages. These projects will attract a potential £60m investment which will help to improve and expand the existing facilities in the schools.
"The announcement represents a first tranche of projects to be progressed from this call, with the potential for further schools to be approved in the future. This is good news for the pupils, staff and wider communities of the schools."
The Education Authority (EA) welcomed the Department of Education's plans.
EA chief executive Gavin Boyd said: "This £60m capital investment means that 25 schools will now benefit from much needed work to improve the infrastructure and facilities for thousands of pupils.
"EA looks forward to moving to the next stages in the planning for new solutions for these schools for the benefit of the pupils, staff and the wider school communities.
"We also welcome the news from DE that further applications from schools may be approved in the future."
Sinn Fein education spokesperson Karen Mullan also welcomed the investment. But the Foyle MLA added: "I am aware that not all schools that bid will have been successful.
"However, I would urge pupils, staff and wider communities not to be disheartened, because today represents just the first tranche of projects and there is potential for more to be announced in the future."
Ulster Unionist education spokesperson, Rosemary Barton MLA, also welcomed the announcement. The former teacher added: "I note there are 18 primary and post primary schools that have received funds from this latest round; 11 are Catholic Maintained, six are controlled and one integrated.
"I will be following up with the Department to ensure the funding is distributed on an equitable basis. I am aware of a number of schools seeking enhancement for some time but which have not yet received the funding."
Schools to benefit from the investment
Carniny PS, Ballymena
Chapel Road PS, Londonderry
Greenhaw PS, Londonderry
Holy Rosary PS, Belfast
Killyleagh Controlled Integrated
Lurgan Model PS
Our Lady of Lourdes PS, Belfast
Presentation PS, Portadown
St John’s PS, Coalisland
St Mary’s PS, Jerrettspass, Newry
St Mary’s PS, Strabane
St Patrick’s PS, Crossmaglen
Post Primary schools
St Joseph’s GS, Donaghmore
St Kevin’s College, Lisnaskea
St Malachy’s College, Belfast
St Patrick’s GS, Armagh
Beechlawn School, Hillsborough
Knockevin Special School,
Longstone School, Dundonald
Roddensvale School, Larne
Sandelford Special School, Coleraine
Sperrinview Special School, Dungannon
Thornfield House School,