School building work to start as funding found

Millington Primary School. Scene of attempted abduction a few days ago. INPT23-550
Millington Primary School. Scene of attempted abduction a few days ago. INPT23-550

Two schools which faced a delay to their expansion projects have been told they will go ahead after all, after funding was found by the education department.

Minister John O’Dowd confirmed that construction work will proceed on Millington Primary School, which is to get 12 new classrooms, refurbishment, improvements to traffic management and a play area in a £3.8 million expansion.

Ceara Special School will also undergo an £2.2 million extension to provide an additional classroom and replace current temporary accommodation with a permanent building.

Three months ago, Peter Cunningham, principal of Ceara, voiced his fury after receiving an email stating that the expansion was to be delayed due to budget cuts.

He said, “We did not expect to be part of the department’s overall cuts. It makes me wonder if children with learning difficulties are bottom of the pile. It means that we will have to continue operating with 13 mobile classrooms, which accommodate 69 of our 132 pupils – just over half of them.”

But last week, the department announced that six schools, including Millington and Ceara, could proceed to construction under The School Enhancement Programme (SEP).

He said,“My department and the Executive more widely face enormous challenges as a result of the reductions imposed on us by the Westminster government. All aspects of the education sector have suffered including the capital budget.

“This meant that some SEP projects were unfortunately unable to move to construction due to the constrained capital budget position.

“The announcement I am making today reflects prudent in-year management of the limited capital resources I have available to me at this time.

“The improved and new accommodation at these schools will provide better facilities for young people to learn in and an improved working environment for all the school staff.”