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O’Dowd marks significant milestone on shared education development

Education Minister, John ODowd, was in Omagh today to mark the start of work to clear and prepare the Lisanelly site for development.
Wednesday, 23 October 2013

In what he described as a hugely significant milestone, the Minister viewed work to begin clearing the site as part of Phase 1 of the ambitious project. Phase 1 will see the construction of a new school for Arvalee School and Resource Centre – the first of six schools, catering for some 3,700 pupils, which will eventually occupy the site.

The Minister said: “The Lisanelly project is visionary. It will be the largest single investment in education facilities ever made here, with construction costs estimated to be in excess of £120million, as it brings six schools together on one campus in the town for the first time.

“Such is the importance of this project that the Executive included a specific target in its Programme for Government to progress work on the site and I am pleased that today we are marking a significant step forward in that work.

“The commencement of demolition marks the beginning of the delivery phase of the Lisanelly Shared Education Campus. It is symbolic of the progress we have made in recent years through working together in an atmosphere of collaboration and sharing. It is symbolic of our move away from the past, toward a brighter future where everyone here can fulfil his or her potential, irrespective of political, religious or social background.”

Today marks the beginning of site clearance, with construction of the first school in Phase 1, Arvalee School and Resource Centre, due to commence next year. The Minister attended the site with pupils from each of the six schools involved to witness demolition of the first building.

The six schools that will move on to the site are Arvalee School and Resource Centre; Loreto Grammar School; Omagh High School; Sacred Heart College; Omagh Academy and Christian Brothers Grammar School.

Mr O’Dowd continued: “I am excited by the opportunity which exists here in Omagh and the prospect of what can be achieved. Working together the schools in Omagh have a unique opportunity to create something special here.

“The opportunity exists to ensure the end result will be greater than the sum of the individual parts and the campus provides a model for shared education here. A model that can act as a flagship for the area and as a beacon showing the way forward for other educational communities in the north.

“The starting point for Lisanelly, as with any other education project, must be the educational case. Will this help raise standards; will it help in tackling underachievement; will it provide a high-quality educational experience for the children and young people of the area?

“I believe the answer to all these questions is a resounding yes. The schools involved have recognised strengths and capabilities and well deserved reputations for delivering quality education and pastoral support for local children.

“There is not, and never has been, any intention to dilute the individual strengths or capabilities of those schools. Rather we want to ensure that we harness and share all that is best in these schools and working together deliver a world class, 21st century education for the area. An education that not only provides children and young people with the necessary academic and practical skills to succeed in life, but one that also enriches their cultural experience and background, through collaboration and sharing with those from outside their community.

“Today is a significant day for Omagh; the first of many as we deliver this ambitious project for the young people of the area.”

Notes to editors:

  1. The Department of Education’s ‘Education Works’ campaign encourages families to play, talk, read and count with their child and to ‘Get Involved Because Education Works’. The campaign highlights the vital role families can play in helping children do well at school and improve their life chances. Visit nidirect website for more information or watch the TV ad on the Department’s YouTube channel.
  2. View photos from the Department of Education in our Flickr collection.
  3. Media enquiries to the Department of Education’s Communications Team on Tel: 028 9127 9207. Out of office hours contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 07699715440 and your call will be returned.