Investment programme in school facilities will support children with Special Educational Needs across Northern Ireland

Education Minister Paul Givan has announced a wide-ranging programme of significant and sustained capital investment for the development of school facilities to support children with Special Educational Needs (SEN) across Northern Ireland.

By Paul Givan MLA

Lagan Valley

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Speaking in the Assembly, the Minister said: “Today I am announcing the biggest step change to capital planning in education for a generation, with an ambitious and far-reaching programme of investment in facilities for children with SEN, which will transform the education and lives of our most vulnerable children and their families.

“It is simply not good enough that many of our most vulnerable children are being educated in ageing facilities, too often without adequate equipment and resources. Our special school staff, who work with our most vulnerable learners, need and deserve facilities that match their skills and expertise.”

The new SEN Capital Programme will deliver; up to eight entirely new special schools over the next 10 years; new builds for a number of existing special schools; an extension and refurbishment programme for special schools; accommodation for specialist classes in mainstream schools as well as additional maintenance and equipment funding.

Outlining a four-point capital investment masterplan that will benefit every special school in Northern Ireland, the Minister continued: “I have put in place an annual £5million maintenance programme for special schools as well as £4million to provide equipment grants to both special schools and schools with specialist provisions, to ensure they have the right resources to support their pupils.”

The Minister added: “We are rightly proud to have wonderful special schools across Northern Ireland and we know the life-changing impact that a successful special school has on pupils and their families.

“I am therefore also announcing that planning of new build schools for Sperrinview and Knockevin Special Schools will begin immediately, as too will capital planning for the much needed second campus of Ardnashee Special School.”

The Minister concluded, “Our hopes and ambitions for our children with SEN should be the same as for any other child. This programme of capital investment is wide-ranging and necessarily ambitious and will transform the special education provision in Northern Ireland.”

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