Twenty-five Northern Ireland schools are set to benefit from a shared £60m funding boost through the School Enhancement Programme.
The Department of Education programme, first established in June 2012, provides financial support for capital projects valued at between £500,000 and £4million.
The second call for projects opened in January 2017 and encouraged applications addressing immediate and pressing accommodation needs in schools.
Ulster Unionist Education Spokesperson, Rosemary Barton welcomed the funding, but has said that she will contact the Department of Education to ensure funding is used on an equitable basis across the various school sectors.
“Any investment and enhancement in the local school estate is good news for the pupils who will benefit from it, so this latest announcement has to be welcomed," the Fermanagh and South Tyrone MLA said.
“As a former teacher of over 30 years I know exactly how difficult it is to teach children in classrooms and buildings which are no longer fit for purpose. I am sure that each of the schools that have been successful will be delighted and I wish them every success with their building work and upgrades.
“I note there are 18 primary and post primary schools that have received funds from this latest round; 11 are Catholic Maintained, 6 are Controlled and 1 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.
“As there were 165 applications received and only 25 have been successful, there will understandably be a lot of disappointment amongst the remaining 140 unsuccessful schools today. I would encourage them to continue their quest for resources to help them enhance their premises. Every child in Northern Ireland deserves the best quality education – no matter how big or small, or old or modern, their school may be.”
Permanent Secretary of the Department of Education Derek Baker said further schools could yet benefit from the scheme.
“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.
"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 £60million investment which will help to improve and expand the existing facilities in the schools.”
“Today’s [Tuesday] 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.”
A total of 165 applications were received from across the province in the second call for funding, with bidding institutions required to pass four stages of assessments before being approved.
The schools proceeding in the programme are:
Carniny PS, Ballymena
Chapel Road PS, Londonderry
Greenhaw PS, Londonderry
Holy Rosary PS, Belfast
Killyleagh Controlled Integrated PS
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, Downpatrick
Longstone School, Dundonald
Roddensvale School, Larne
Sandelford Special School, Coleraine
Sperrinview Special School, Dungannon
Thornfield House School, Newtownabbey