FOUR Enniskillen schools are set to reap the benefits of a £106m investment in education announced by Education Minister John O’Dowd last week.
The investment includes 50 schools across the North with the various extension and refurbishments refurbishment or extension projects valued between £500,000 and £4million.
Within the county the recipients of the investment are Mount Lourdes Grammar, Enniskillen, St Michael’s College, Enniskillen, the Erne Integrated College and Willowbridge School.
Maureen McKeever, principal of Mount Lourdes explained that the school are now through to the next stage of funding, with a final decision to be made in January 2014.
They have applied for £690,000 worth of funding for the refurbishment and upgrade of the school canteen, the realignment of the main school entrance and the provision of a fully enclosed covered walkway connecting the three main units of the school.
Mrs McKeever believes that should the project come to fruition it would enhance the education provision currently offered at the school.
“The work would complete the school refurbishment work and address health and safety matters.”
Eugene McCullough, principal of St Michael’s College stated his delight with the announcement that their application for funding had been selected to proceed to the next stage.
Their proposal includes the provision of the latest all-weather flood-lit sports playing field to incorporate gaelic games, soccer and rugby in addition to a surrounding athletics track and associated athletics facilities. A small pavilion incorporating changing rooms, toilets, showers and car parking is also included.
The project would cost in the region of £1 million, including building and consultancy costs and the school will be fund raising.
Mr McCullough added: “The project aims to provide facilities which currently do not exist at the College and thereby address significant accommodation inadequacies. The wet weather conditions which prevail in Fermanagh are such that a reliance on grass pitches means that the current facilities available can be unplayable at many times of the year particularly when most needed from September to April.”
Julie Murphy, principal at Willowbridge School was ecstatic at learning her school had been approved for funding worth £1,610,000. The proposed work involves an extension to the former Elmbrook part of the school.
“When we amalgamated we were left with the two buildings the Elmbrook and the Erne. The Erne was a much older building and not in good repair with heating costs a lot more,” explained Julie.
The work will involve building new better equipped classrooms to deal with the number of children now attending the school. At this stage the school are speaking to the architects, but Julie is just delighted that the stuff of dreams will soon become reality.
“I can’t believe it, when we submitted the application we thought it would be years before we heard anything, but we got a phone call on Friday to say our application had been approved. It will make a major change. I sometimes get quite disheartened when I show prospective parents around the school. We have such a good building and then such an old building. The teachers do have lovely displays up, but it is colder, damper and not as good a facility. We are delighted these improvements are going to take place.”
Acting principal at Erne Integrated College Sharon McKee explained how the school hopes the funding will bring the site up to 21st century standards.
“We are very pleased at the announcement by the DENI that our application for School Enhancement Programme Funding is to be progressed to the business case stage.
“We made an application for £4,000,000 to the Department of Education in April of this year setting out a list of projects needed to bring our college up to 21st century standards. Our ambition is to improve the existing accommodation at Erne Integrated College, by replacing our 18-year-old mobile classrooms with permanent buildings, to refurbish our Science department, extend our Technology and Home Economics suites and provide a new build Careers Suite, a Special Needs suite and a brand new Sports Hall.
“This is a huge boost for the Integrated movement in Fermanagh and a clear indication of the future sustainability and growth of the College.”
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