Education Minister Weir announces £45m cash injection for 18 Northern Ireland schools
Eighteen schools in Northern Ireland are to proceed with building projects after an investment of £45 million was announced.
Education Minister Peter Weir made the announcement on Tuesday as part of the School Enhancement Programme (SEP), which supports refurbishment or extension projects valued between £500,000 and £4m.
It was the first major announcement of any new Executive minister since its reformation at the weekend.
The programme targets schools with pressing construction needs, where major capital works are not deemed affordable within the school's budget.
Set up in 2012, the scheme has had two funding calls in which a total of 91 schools benefited from investment.
The latest announcement will see investment made in 12 primary schools, five secondary schools and one special school.
Peter Weir said the funding was not just positive news for schools, but for the wider economy.
“This is a significant investment which will deliver much needed capital investment in the schools estate," he said.
"More importantly, this is an investment in the future of our young people and will enhance the quality of their learning experience, leading to better educational opportunities and outcomes."
“Improving the schools estate is a priority for me and the SEP scheme is an excellent way of delivering capital work projects which have an immediate positive impact on the schools, staff and pupils and, indeed, local communities.”
The New Decade, New Approach deal highlights several priorities for the Executive in relation to the education sector.
These include addressing resourcing pressures facing schools and overseeing an independent review of the quality and sustainability of the education system in Northern Ireland.
Construction work at the 18 schools receiving investment is expected to start in the 2022/23 financial year.
Mr Weir added: “Today’s announcement is not only good news for pupils and schools but it will also represent a welcome boost to the economy, especially the construction industry.
“In addition to this SEP announcement, I intend to continue to advance the programme of major capital builds as well as a programme of much needed minor works across the estate. I will also look to invest in maintenance works across all schools.”
When asked precisely how much each school will receive, a Department of Education spokesperson said: “Detailed plans for each school will be developed throughout the planning and design process.
"It is not possible to be definitive about the likely spend on any individual project until the scoping/technical feasibility work is complete, however, SEP projects typically result in investment of between £2.5m and £4m."
Welcoming the announcement, Sinn Fein education spokesperson said the SEP has made a "massive difference" to the schools estate over the years.
“I am particularly delighted that Holy Child PS in Derry has been included this announcement to allow their case for much-needed improvements to move forward," she said.
“After visiting the school, I met with CCMS (Council for Catholic Maintained Schools) to help ensure that Holy Child PS were included in the School Enhancement Programme.
“For the Executive to deliver on commitments to Education, the British Government needs to live up to commitments made in the ‘New Decade, New Approach’ document.”
The schools advancing in planning under the SEP are:
- Botanic PS, Belfast
- Carrick PS, Lurgan
- Cliftonville Controlled Integrated PS, Belfast
- Glencraig Controlled Integrated PS
- Holy Child PS, Londonderry
- Irvinestown PS
- Kilcooley PS, Bangor
- Killinchy PS
- St John the Baptist PS, Belfast
- St Kieran’s PS, Dunmurry
- St Paul’s PS, Mica Drive, Belfast
- Strabane PS
- Glastry College, Ballyhalbert
- St Louis Grammar School, Ballymena
- St Patrick’s College, Maghera
- Sullivan Upper School, Holywood
- Victoria College, Belfast
- Riverside School, Antrim
Belfast Telegraph Digital