Call for action on new build for Carrickfergus Academy

Carrickfergus Academy operates at the former Downshire School and Carrick College sites (images by Google).
Carrickfergus Academy operates at the former Downshire School and Carrick College sites (images by Google).

East Antrim MLA John Stewart has sought an update on a new school build for Carrickfergus Academy.

The school, formed after the amalgamation of Downshire School and Carrickfergus College, has operated on a split site since September 2018.

John Stewart MLA.

John Stewart MLA.

The UUP representative raised the issue in the first question to the new Minister for Education, Peter Weir.

Responding, the Minister said: “The Education Authority has submitted an application on behalf of Carrickfergus Academy under the recent call for major capital works. That call was issued in September 2019, and it closed on 31 October 2019. This was a Northern Ireland-wide call. All applications submitted under this call are currently being considered by officials and applications which meet the eligibility criteria will be scored in accordance with the published protocol.

“As this is a live and, ultimately, competitive process between schools, it would not be appropriate for me to comment further on a new build for Carrickfergus Academy at this time. However, it is likely that a major capital announcement of schemes to advance in planning will be made in the forthcoming months.”

Acknowledging the ongoing process, a supplementary question from Mr Stewart added: “The Minister understands that the former schools of both Downshire and Carrickfergus College were assured when the concept of the merger was being discussed that they would be prioritised, and that was one of the concepts for which they undertook the merger.

“I look forward to hearing the outcomes. The parents, the pupils, the governors and the staff of Carrickfergus Academy are very eager to see this happen. I ask the Minister to do all he can to make sure that comes forward.

“At the moment thousands of pounds of the school budget is being lost because of the logistics of operating two sites.  What needs to happen is that all associated with the school - teachers, parents and pupils - are given a clear picture and timeline of when and where a new school campus will be delivered.”