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Armstong PS one of six to benefit from multi-million pound improvements

Armagh’s Armstrong Primary School is in line for a major upgrade at a cost of almost £2.5 million, Armagh I can reveal.

Environment Minister John O’Dowd today (Friday) signalled that the project had been passed to proceed to the construction stage.

It will see the school – at College Hill in Armagh – benefitting from an extension to existing accommodation, as well as refurbishment works and mechanical and electrical works to meet ‘handbook standards’.

The Department of Education has approved that the development can now go ahead, with a capital allowance of £2,450,000.

The school, which was opened in 1927, is one of six projects today which have been given the go-ahead under the School Enhancement Programme.

Also getting the green light is Ceara Special School in Lurgam, with a £2,278,000 extension to provide additional classroom accommodation and the replacement of current temporary accommodation with a permanent building.

Meanwhile, Millington Primary School in Craigavon will get a new 12-classroom extension, with refurbishments and improvements to traffic management and a play area.

The cost of the works is £3,875,000.

Dalriada School in Ballymoney’s £2,190,000 allocation will see the provision of a new multi-purpose hall.

Donard Special School has been allocated £1,184,000 for a classroom extension to replace current modular accommodation.

Rainey Endowed (Phase 2) will see a £2,048,000 efurbishment of existing classrooms and new PE facility.

The School Enhancement Programme (SEP) was announced in 2013 for construction projects costing between £500,000 and £4,000,000.

The programme is targeted to meet the immediate and pressing needs in schools, through smaller scale works, where a new build capital works is not deemed deliverable.

Commenting on the decision, Minister O’Dowd said: “Ongoing investment in our schools estate is essential if we are to continue to provide a quality education. The School Enhancement Programme is an important way of providing this much needed work.

“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 of 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. This will bring the number of SEP projects on site to 28.

“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. This also represents a welcome boost for the construction industry.”

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