New build for Rossmar will be ‘life changing’

Rossmar principal Brian McLaughlin says funding for a new school will be “life changing” and put an end to segregation among students at the Greystone Road school.

Education Minister John O’Dowd announced the long-awaited news yesterday, which the ‘Journal’ first reported as being likely a fortnight ago. Rossmar Special School will receive £6.4 million. It is one of 18 schools across the North to receive new facilities as part of a £173 million investment in the schools’ estate.

Speaking just minutes after the news was announced, an ecstatic principal McLaughlin said: “We are over the moon. We were hooting with delight watching the live streaming of the announcement. It’s fantastic because we have waited eight years for this. It will be absolutely life-changing for this school.”

Rossmar has 85 students whose needs range from mild to severe physical and learning disabilities. It is an amalgamation of Glasvey School, which was based in Ballykelly and where Mr. McLaughlin was vice principal for 15 years, and Limegrove School. However, because of the physical layout of the school, where some pupils are accommodated in prefab huts, and a number of access issues, several students are effectively segregated from the rest of the school population.

“This brings an end to that segregation and allows the amalgamation come to fruition,” he said. “It’s a result of many years work, especially when I think of original drawings and plans for a new build so many years ago which were scrubbed. I thank the Minister from the bottom of my heart on behalf of everyone in this school. He did what we were told he would do. He came here and he listened to what we had to say and we are just delighted. What a way to end the term!”

Trevor Eakin, whose son, 14-year-old Dale, goes to Rossmar, said: “It’s great news, just fantastic. It means a clean fresh start with everything new and up to the standard it should be.”

He added: “It’s what the school deserves.”