Multi-million pound shared campus plans approved

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Approval has been granted for a shared education campus for two schools in Limavady - one Protestant, the other Catholic.

Limavady High School and St Mary’s High School, Limavady announced plans to bid for shared facilities for science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) and shared sixth form facilities.

The £8 million plans were unveiled in the Sentinel back in March, after the school made a presentation to the local council calling for their support.

The Education Minister John O’Dowd has now announced the project is to move ahead for planning.

He said: “I believe shared education has the potential to deliver real educational benefits, to ensure best use of resources and to further community cohesion.

“The Shared Education Campuses Programme provides schools with the opportunity to build on existing sharing arrangements and access funding to help improve or provide shared facilities. We received a significant level of interest in this programme with 16 applications. I am pleased to be in a position to announce the first three projects to be supported.”

Also to be granted approval were ‘shared education’ campuses in Moy and Ballycastle.

The Minister continued: “The three projects selected will build on well established sharing arrangements between the schools involved and will help embed and enhance those sharing arrangements.

“This was the first call for projects and I am conscious that the limited time meant not everyone was able to have proposals worked up in time for the deadline. Therefore as well as approving the three projects to be advanced through to a detailed business case, I am announcing that a second call for projects will open in September this year.

“I look forward to further innovative shared proposals coming forward at that time. Those that were unsuccessful in this announcement will receive feedback on their proposal and can resubmit it if appropriate, to this second call.

“I am confident that we will have additional successful projects to announce in the future that will help achieve the target of 10 new campuses commenced in the next five years.”

Speaking as their plans were outlined at a recent council meeting, Limavady High School Principal Shane Lavery said: “This (STEM) centre, which will be accessed by all, will have dedicated technology and science rooms. It will be for the benefit the pupils, firstly of Limavady High School and St Mary’s, but also for pupils from other schools.”

St Mary’s Principal Mary McCloskey said: “Currently, we have no facilities for these sixth form children - because we are not a grammar we are not entitled to any funding.”