Carrickfergus Academy case highlighted again in wake of education funding announcement

Elected representatives have vowed to continue to lobby the Stormont Executive on funding for new Carrickfergus Academy premises.

Wednesday, 6th May 2020, 5:28 pm
Carrickfergus Academy. (Image by Google).

The secondary level school in the Co Antrim town has been operating on a split campus since September 2018 following the amalgamation of Carrickfergus College and Downshire School.

This week Education Minister Peter Weir announced 16 schools will benefit from an estimated capital investment of £40 million under the second call to the School Enhancement Programme (SEP2).

The announcement, which included Carrickfergus Grammar School, Greenisland Primary School and Hill Croft School, Newtownabbey, was welcomed locally.

However, MLAs and councillors said they will also be pressing the department on Carrickfergus Academy’s behalf.

UUP MLA Roy Beggs, who invited Mr Weir to the school’s senior campus in February, said: “There have been concerns that local schools had not been benefited from previous announcements of the School Enhancement programme. I therefore welcome the news that detailed planning on school improvement is to commence on upgrading facilities at Greenisland Primary School, Carrickfergus Grammar School and Hill Croft School, Newtownabbey.

“However, there remains a need for major investment at Carrickfergus Academy following school amalgamation and this is an issue I will continue to lobby on.”

This was echoed by party colleague John Stewart MLA who said: “Naturally there are a number of other schools who require similar assistance, notably for the pupils and teachers at Carrickfergus Academy who will all be hoping for good news of a new built project being announced very soon. I will continue to lobby on this and on behalf of every school that raises an issue directly with me.”

Alliance Councillor Noel Williams, who was part of the group who met the minister during his visit to North Road, said: ““These three schools are desperately in need of infrastructure support. I hope that going forward Carrickfergus Academy will also be able to avail of funding from upcoming measures mentioned by the minister in his statement to the Assembly.”
In a joint statement, East Antrim DUP MLAs Gordon Lyons and David Hilditch said: “Through this additional capital investment, both Greenisland Primary and Carrickfergus Grammar School will be able to carry out much needed repairs and make improvements which will benefit both pupils and staff.

“We know that many other schools in East Antrim are in need of additional investment and we will continue to press the case for further support in the months ahead.”

Commenting after Mr Weir’s visit earlier in the year, Carrickfergus Academy said they “were able to have useful discussions surrounding capital funding for the school and other key issues”.

Speaking at Stormont on Tuesday, Mr Weir said “Over my term as Education Minister, I will review progress on the 74 announced projects and, subject to satisfactory progress and available budget, will consider if there should be a third call for applications to the programme, as part of the overall capital investment strategy.”

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