Alliance meets with Education Minister to discuss school building funding

East Belfast Alliance MP Naomi Long and MLA Chris Lyttle met with the Education Minister Caitríona Ruane to raise concerns about delays to school building projects in the constituency, including at Tor Bank, Victoria Park Primary and Strandtown Primary. They also raised the issue of education provision in Inner East Belfast and access to nursery school places. The meeting follows one with the Chief Executive of the Education and Library Board during the summer.

Naomi Long MP said: “The meeting provided us with the opportunity to get an update from the Minister about three of the schools who are awaiting redevelopment. Whilst we fully understand the financial constraints within which every Minister has to operate, there are real frustrations at the speed of progress with the new builds for these schools and also with how the process has been handled.

“In the case of Victoria Park Primary, the new build was promised during the amalgamation of three schools (Sydenham Infants, Strand Primary and Mersey Street Primary) and as such is long overdue; however, the school is also now also having to accommodate pupils who have transferred from Beechfield Primary School in a building which is far from ideal. The delay in Strandtown’s proposal, which was deemed partially compliant at the beginning of the summer, was also of real concern both in terms of the reasons for that assessment and the way in which it was communicated to the school, and we raised both issues with the Minister.”

Chris Lyttle MLA said: “We discussed the need for more action to encourage sharing and integration within the education sector. Given the tough times we are facing in relation to public finances, we need to see an increased emphasis on the economic potential of sharing within the schools estate to ensure value for money. We raised the significant reduction in primary school provision in inner East Belfast , an area of high social and economic deprivation and expressed our frustration that integrated solutions are not more proactively explored with communities.”


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