A DECISION to initiate planning on a permanent building for Larne’s only integrated school has been welcomed by the principal as “wonderful news”.
Denise Macfarlane and the board of governors at Corran Integrated Primary School are delighted by Education Minister John O’Dowd’s announcement last week (as reported by the Larne Times) that the long-awaited project is to be advanced to the planning stage.
Mrs Macfarlane said: “This is wonderful news. This academic year, Corran IPS is celebrating its 21st anniversary.
“The school has grown from an initial intake of 50 pupils to over 200 pupils and as a consequence the school accommodation has also grown over the years.
“We have been pressing for a permanent school building on our current site and I am pleased that the minister and Department of Education have recognised the long-term viability of Corran Integrated Primary School within the Larne area through their strategic work on area planning.”
The principal added that the provision of a new-build will ensure the delivery of a modern, fit-for-purpose school that will be sustainable long into the future.
The governors and head teacher are aware, however, that the ministerial announcement is just the first stage in securing the new school.
Mrs Macfarlane said: “As the minister has indicated, the authorisation to proceed with construction will be based on the level of capital funding available at that time and all necessary approvals being obtained.
“Nonetheless, this is an important announcement and moves us one major step forward in our plans for the future.”
They are confident that it will not be necessary to decant pupils elsewhere during construction. The principal explained: “The founding governors of the school had great foresight in locating the temporary accommodation in a position which will allow building to take place on the current football pitch and soft play area, thus avoiding the need for the school population to decant to an alternative site during construction.”
Mrs Macfarlane added that a permanent structure will help to strengthen community ties. She said: “The board of governors and staff at the school have continued to promote the use of the school in the community.
“They are pleased that community links have been strengthened through extended use of the premises by a number of outside agencies in the evenings.
“The new school building project will also provide an opportunity to address concerns raised by some local residents regarding traffic management, an issue shared by all local schools.
“The school governors and staff also recognise that the investment in a new school build could also have a much needed boost for the construction sector and local economy in the area, which has recently been impacted heavily with the loss of jobs.”
Mrs Macfarlane concluded by saying: “Corran IPS provides high quality education for all its pupils from nursery to P7.
“The school offers a viable, integrated education for parents seeking a diverse and unbiased learning environment for their children.
“The continued expansion of the integrated sector throughout Northern Ireland reflects the public’s desire for a balanced and shared approach to education. The school’s child-centred, inclusive and progressive approach to teaching and learning provides an excellent opportunity for staff development for other schools through shared training days and dissemination of good practice.
“We look forward to liaising and cooperating with the Department of Education in the creation of a shared future for our pupils.”