New building hopes for NI school ‘bursting at the seams’

Eight years since Portadown Integrated Primary School was promised a new building and many set backs since, there is renewed hope.

Thursday, 24th June 2021, 11:32 am

The popular primary and nursery school is bursting at the seams and had hoped that a new building would have been up and running by now.

Despite numerous efforts no site has yet been acquired.

However, there is renewed hope after a successful meeting this week involving Education Minister Michelle McIlveen, SDLP MLA Dolores Kelly and DUP MP Carla Lockhart.

SDLP MLA Dolores Kelly who has been campaigning for a new build for Portadown Integrated Nursery and Primary School.

All feel that following that meeting, work on getting a site for the new school can progress.

Mrs Kelly said: “I am appalled at the lack of effort and the willingness from the Education Authority and others to drive this project on and acquire a site for the new build.

“In 2013, a new build for the school was promised but as of yet no site has been secured.”

She added: “In consultation with principal Feargal Magee and the Board of Governors we were very concerned that negotiations have been at a standstill while the school is bursting at its seams with 450 plus students.

Portadown Integrated Nursery and Primary School. Photo courtesy of Google.

“I had written to the former Economy Minister Diane Dodds who confirmed her support before she left office and to the Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Council’s Chief Executive Roger Wilson, 
about an alternative site, should the preferred site in Invest NI ownership not be available.”

Mrs Kelly went on: “However, following a meeting with the new Education Minister Michelle McIlveen, I am pleased that she has reiterated her support and commitment to acquire a site and has instructed her officials to recommence negotiations with the relevant landowners.”

The SDLP MLA added: “This has been a long running saga for both the school and the residents directly affected with the increased traffic congestion in the area. It is now past its time that we see progress on this.”

SDLP colleague, Cllr Thomas Larkham is pursuing the other options with council officials.

He said: “It is very encouraging that we have the support of other political parties in finding a resolution and, the last eight years have been wasted. The SDLP are determined that the children attending the Portadown Integrated Nursery and PS are given the best environment in which to learn and play.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Education said: “Despite substantial efforts from everyone concerned over a long period of time, a suitable site for Portadown Integrated Primary School has not yet been secured.

“Department officials continue to give priority to the identification of an appropriate site and are continuing to engage with all relevant stakeholders to acquire an appropriate site for the school.”

An Education Authority spokesperson said: “The EA does not have any role in acquiring a site or applying for a new build for Portadown Integrated PS as it is a grant maintained integrated school.”

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