18 schools across NI to receive SEP funding worth £45m

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An empty classroom.Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
It is estimated that construction work will begin in 2022 or 2023.

Eighteen schools across Northern Ireland are to receive building improvements worth about £45m.

Education Minister Peter Weir said the improvements are the latest to be funded under the school enhancement programme (SEP).

It provides for new school buildings worth between £500,000 and £4m.

Five post-primary schools, twelve primary schools and one special school are set to benefit from the enhancement scheme.

The scheme provides money for parts of schools to be rebuilt rather than entire new school buildings.

The funding announced on Tuesday is the third tranche from a call for applications to the scheme made in 2017.

In May 2018, the Department of Education's permanent secretary Derek Baker announced that £60m would be spent on work on 25 schools.

That was followed by £40m in funding for a further 16 schools in January 2019.

Image caption,
Education Minister Peter Weir speaking to the assembly on Tuesday about the SEP scheme

Mr Weir told the assembly on Tuesday that a further 18 schools would now share £45m for improvements and could advance to the planning process.

It is estimated that construction work will begin in 2022 or 2023.

The twelve primary schools are:

  • Botanic PS; Cliftonville Controlled Integrated PS; St John the Baptist PS; St Paul's PS - all Belfast
  • Carrick PS- Lurgan;
  • Glencraig Controlled Integrated PS- Holywood;
  • Holy Child PS - Londonderry;
  • Irvinestown PS - Enniskillen;
  • Kilcooley PS -Bangor;
  • Killinchy PS- Newtownards;
  • St Kieran's PS - Dunmurry;
  • Strabane PS - Strabane.

The five post-primaries are:

  • Glastry College- Newtownards;
  • St Louis Grammar School - Ballymena;
  • St Patrick's College- Maghera;
  • Sullivan Upper School- Holywood;
  • Victoria College - Belfast.

Improvements to Riverside Special School in Antrim will also be funded.

'Piece of the jigsaw'

In response to a question from the newly-appointed chair for the Education Committee, Alliance MLA Chris Lyttle, Mr Weir said that the SEP announcement was "one piece of the jigsaw".

He agreed with Mr Lyttle that there was a need for "reform" in education.

"For any incoming minister, there are major challenges out there in terms of resources," Mr Weir said.

"There's also a very strong need to ensure that we get the best possible delivery for all our children, so it is also an issue of transformation and of reform."

Mr Weir said he was committed to reform of the education system promised in the New Decade, New Approach document, and would be bringing proposals to the assembly on that "soon".