IN the Money!

John O'Dowd MLA Minister of Education who officially opened the Art and Design Centre at St. Joseph's College. INCR12-122PL
John O'Dowd MLA Minister of Education who officially opened the Art and Design Centre at St. Joseph's College. INCR12-122PL

St Patrick’s Academy, Wallace High and Friends’ School are celebrating after Education Minister John O’Dowd gave the go ahead for millions of pounds to be allocated to the Lisburn schools to allow them to undertake major extension projects.

St Patrick’s Academy are receiving some £4 million which will be used to start redevelopment work at the school.

Principal, Dr Seamus Quinn, explained that the school was now at maximum capacity and that they urgently needed new accommodation.

“The money will be used to provide an additional sports facility and a major free standing extension, which will include an HE suite, art suite and audiovisual areas,” explained Dr Quinn.

“There will also be substantial earth works to improve access and parking.

“There will be another school enhancement project at some stage for new play facilities, as this new extension will be built on the existing pitches.

“We also hope to create an opening via parish land onto the Moira Road and the final stage of the scheme will include the refurbishment of the interior of the school,” he added.

At Wallace High, £3.2 million will be spent to provide new accommodation at the school.

Work planned at the school includes a purpose built extension for Home Economics and Art, the modification and extension of existing technology facilities.

And there will also be a new purpose built extension for a fitness suite and changing facilities.

The existing floor space, which will be vacated by Art and Home Economics, will be refurbished, to remove the need for all temporary mobile classroom accommodation.

A spokesperson for the school said: “The Chairman and the Principal wish to thank the Board of Governors, the Bursar, the teaching and support staff who worked collaboratively to achieve this for our young people.”

The Friends’ project will include the construction of a £3 million new building to accommodate the Music Department and classroom accommodation and the refurbishment of some existing classrooms.

It is envisaged that the new building will replace Harding House.

A spokesperson for the school said they were delighted with the Education Minister’s announcement and looked forward to work getting underway at the school as soon as possible.

“The Principal, Governors and staff of Friends’ School are delighted that Minister of Education has announced that their proposal for a School Enhancement project is one of the projects that has secured Department of Education approval to proceed,” said the spokesperson.

“Governors look forward to the appointment of an architect for this project and to working with the staff of the school to develop a detailed design for the new building.”

Making the announcement of the multi-million pound investment on Tuesday (March 28), the Education Minister said:

“I have previously made it clear that the limited capital budget available means that we also need to do more with the existing estate.

“That is why I established the Schools Enhancement Programme with a view to refurbishing and extending some of our school buildings.

“I am pleased to announce that 51 projects have now received the necessary approvals and am recommending that design work on all of the projects commences immediately

“This investment, worth a potential £134 million, will help to improve existing facilities and enable structural changes in the successful schools,” concluded Mr O’Dowd.