Work towards a new £6.4 million Rossmar School building is well underway, with students and staff expected to be in the new build by November 2018.
Principal Brian Mclaughlin said the new school will vastly improve life for students and staff.
“We’re moving through the various stages and we’re progressing as expected,” said Mr McLaughlin. “The overall plan for the school - covering 4,300 square metres - has been set and the architects are working on the final detailed drawings. It’s tremendous to see it at this stage and how far it has come and it makes everything more real.”
Rossmar 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.
“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 at the rear of the current site, said Mr McLaughlin.
Currently, Rossmar has 14 teachers and 103 students drawing pupils from Strathfoyle, Eglinton and around the Roe Valley to Portstewart.
“For students who are under 18 they will be in the new school and see the benefits. It will make a huge difference. You couldn’t quantify what it will mean,” he said. “For anyone who has ever been in the school they’ll know how many different levels there are. Now we will be in one unified building that will allow the smooth passage of wheelchairs. It really will make a massive difference.”
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.