The principal of a special needs school in Limavady has hailed a £6.3 million investment into a new school as a “new world” for students and staff, the principal has said.
It is hoped the first digger will be on site at Rossmar Special School by August/September time, according to Principal Brian McLaughlin. He said the new purpose built school will be ready for pupils by January 2017.
It will be a new world for pupils in terms of the schoolPrincipal Brian McLaughlin
“It’s an investment that is long overdue and much needed,” Mr McLaughlin told the ‘Journal’.
The final plans for the school - covering 4,300 square metres - have been submitted to the Department of Education and are awaiting final approval. Once that comes through, which Mr McLaughlin hopes will be “any day now”, the project will go out to tender.
“We are very excited about it because, right now, the school is very scattered,” said Mr McLaughlin. “The new school will be more compact, laid out in three wings - junior, senior and centre wings - and the centre wing will be where all the practical areas are, including art, design and all the therapy rooms. All wings will be equally accessible to all students.”
The new school will be on a new location on the current site at the back, said Mr McLaughlin.
Currently, Rossmar has 103 students drawing pupils from Strathfoyle, Eglinton and around the Roe Valley to Portstewart.
“Parents have come to look at the school and decided, and understandably so, to take their children elsewhere. It has nothing at all to do with the teaching staff and provision. They have been put off by the infrastructure and the facilities.”
Once the new school is operational, the exisiting school will be demolished and work will begin on new, purpose-built play areas and sports pitches for students of all abilities and ages.
“It will be a new world for pupils in terms of the school,” said Mr McLaughlin. “The school is very scattered and on so many different levels that some pupils can’t access parts of it, but all those obstacles will be removed with the new school. We have rooms with iron windows as it is now, but we will be moving into a purpose-built facility designed around all students and their needs.”
Staff are equally as excited and, according to Mr McLaughlin, will mean they can work in closer collaboration with each other.
“They are looking forward to it as much as the kids, maybe more,” he said, adding the new school will bring Rossmar up to par with other schools in the community.