16/08/2011

School Building For St Columba's Approved

The NI Education Minister, John O'Dowd, has cut the first sod of a new building for St Columba's Primary School, Draperstown.

The new school which will be able to accommodate up to 175 pupils, will be built on a site on the Sixtowns Road adjacent to where the current school is situated.

Speaking at the ceremony, the Sinn Fein Minister (pictured) said: "The cutting of this first sod of a new build for St Columba's Primary School is a great day for the village of Straw and its surrounding area.

"This school has been delivering education to the children of the parish of Ballinascreen for over 50 years and is an integral part of the community with strong links to the local people.

"The start of this construction represents an investment of almost £2million by my Department in the future of the children that attend St Columba's Primary School. Since May 2007, 53 major school building projects have been completed across the north, with a further 18 projects on site," he said.

During the week the Minister also approved the establishment of an Autistic Spectrum Disorder Unit at Jones Memorial Primary School, Enniskillen.

The proposal will provide support for children with a diagnosis of autism who cannot cope in a mainstream classroom situation on a full-time basis, but could benefit from being placed in an autism specific class attached to the mainstream school.

Commenting on the decision, the Minister said: "The new unit at Jones Memorial Primary School will enable children with autism to access small group teaching and periods of individual support, whilst remaining integrated with their mainstream peers.

"This approach is in line with my Department's aim of educating children with special educational needs within mainstream settings where possible, ensuring they benefit both educationally and socially.

"I wish the Western Education and Library Board and the school the very best for the future as they work to establish the new unit."

(GK/BMcC)

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