Carrickfergus schools get development boost with £40m education funding announcement

Carrickfergus Grammar School and Greenisland Primary School are among 16 applicants set to benefit under the second call to the School Enhancement Programme, which is for schemes costing between £500k and £4million.

Wednesday, 6th May 2020, 11:54 am
James Maxwell, principal of Carrickfergus Grammar School.
James Maxwell, principal of Carrickfergus Grammar School.

James Maxwell, principal of Carrickfergus Grammar, said: “The entire school community at Carrickfergus Grammar is absolutely delighted at this news. The school has exciting plans for the development of new, state-of-the-art infrastructure which will be unparalleled and which will give our students and staff the facilities they so richly deserve, ensuring also that Carrickfergus Grammar School remains at the forefront of educational provision.

“The school will now work with the Education Authority and Department of Education on scoping, with the hope that building projects will commence in the next few years.”

Liam McGuckin, principal of Greenisland PS, said: “It’s good news for the school. We have been trying to get improvements for the last six years; part of the building is over 80 years old. We are at capacity at the moment and are in an area of growth, so if the school is going to continue to thrive we are in need of an update.

Liam McGuckin, principal of Greenisland PS.

“I would like to thank all of the local MLAs for their support, including the DUP, UUP and Alliance but especially Stewart Dickson, a former pupil who has done a lot of work on this behind the scenes.”

He added that renovation work is needed in much of the older part of the school including “classrooms, offices, and toilets”.

It is also hoped the funding will progress a separate project to create a pedestrian entrance at School Lane.

“We hope that as one of the largest schools in Northern Ireland, we would be eligible for a sizeable amount of funding. The most important thing is that it’s a school that’s going to be sustainable and that’s going to be there for a long time.”

Due to work on the previously announced 58 projects, these additional 16 projects are unlikely to be initiated before the 2021/22 financial year, at the earliest.

Speaking in the Assembly, the minister said: “The School Enhancement Programme has been very successful in delivering much needed capital investment in our schools estate. As of today, 74 schools across the estate – 43 primary schools, 19 post-primary schools and 12 special schools are, or will, benefit from the second call to the scheme.

“Improving the schools estate is one of my priorities and in the current unprecedented and difficult times, I hope this announcement will send a strong signal to the local construction industry that the Department of Education is planning for the future and is committed to supporting the local economy through delivery of our capital programme.”

The announcement has been welcomed by elected representatives for the area, who have also vowed to continue lobbying for investment at Carrickfergus Academy, which is operating on a split campus following amalgamation of Carrickfergus College and Downshire School.

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