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Education Minister welcomes contract

15-03-2011

DE

Education Minister, Caitríona Ruane, has welcomed the signing of a £31million capital contract to provide new and upgraded buildings for two schools.

The contract for the Lagan College and Tor Bank School project will provide an extended and refurbished school for Lagan College and new purpose-built accommodation for Tor Bank Special School for a total of 1,360 pupils. The contract also provides building maintenance and facilities management for the next 25 years.

Speaking at the formal contract signing, the Minister said: “I welcome this important step in signing the contract for these two schools to enable construction to commence shortly. Each school can now look forward to purpose-built accommodation with state-of-the art equipment opening in two years.

“The project opens a new chapter in the education of young people in Lagan College at Castlereagh, while in Dundonald, Tor Bank has an important role meeting the educational needs of some of our most vulnerable children. This £31million capital project is also more good news for the construction industry.

“I would also like to thank the school authorities, Board of Governors and staff of each school for the hard work they have put in to reaching this milestone. These new facilities will provide the pupils attending the two schools with a rewarding educational experience for many years to come.”

Speaking about Year 8 admissions to Lagan College, the Minister said: “I acknowledge and welcome the fact that most of Lagan College’s new pupils are admitted on an all ability basis. However, around one third are selected on the basis of breakaway tests and that should end.

“Schools have a right to apply for public funding for modern educational facilities and were absolutely entitled to the allocated funding. As Education Minister I recognise and defend that right.

“But the right to draw down large amounts of public investment carries with it responsibilities, including the responsibility to play a full and willing part in meeting the needs of all children in this community, not just the academically gifted and able. I therefore call on Lagan College to abandon completely the use of selection tests and ensure equality of opportunity for all young people.”
 

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