Northern Ireland

Work on new Ballycastle shared education campus could start before the end of year

The modern, state of the art education facilities will be shared between Ballycastle High School and Cross and Passion College
The modern, state of the art education facilities will be shared between Ballycastle High School and Cross and Passion College The modern, state of the art education facilities will be shared between Ballycastle High School and Cross and Passion College

WORK on a new shared education campus in Ballycastle could start before the end of the year, the Department of Education has said.

It comes after it confirmed that Heron Bros contractors have been appointed to build the £70 million shared education campus.

The modern, state-of-the-art education facilities will be shared between Ballycastle High School and Cross and Passion College and will be funded primarily through Fresh Start funding for Shared and Integrated Education.

The new campus will accommodate approximately 1,200 pupils from both schools and will be constructed on the existing school sites.

The main campus building and sports hall will be located on the current Ballycastle High School site, while the Cross and Passion site will accommodate outdoor sports facilities and a changing pavilion.

The sports facilities will also be available for community use.

Announcing the award of the contract, permanent secretary Dr Mark Browne, said: "The design and build contractor, Heron Bros, will now begin final design work with a view to commencing construction towards the end of the year.

“This scheme marks a new era for Ballycastle High School and Cross and Passion College.

A previous image, issued in 2021, of the proposed new campus
A previous image, issued in 2021, of the proposed new campus A previous image, issued in 2021, of the proposed new campus

"These two schools have a long and successful history of working together for the benefit of their pupils and the wider community. 

"While both schools will continue to retain their own individual identities within the new campus, the modern fit-for-purpose accommodation will further enhance shared delivery of the curriculum."

Geraldine Duffy, principal of Cross and Passion College, said it is an "exciting milestone".

"This is a wonderful opportunity for the young people and wider community in north Antrim," she said.

"It is testament to the vision and dedication of our predecessors from both schools that we have reached this significant stage.

“Each year the two schools welcome visitors from across the world, keen to gain insight into how both schools provide unique experiences in their own rights, but also enhance their provision through sharing pupil learning and staff development opportunities, via their close working relationship. 

"This investment protects the history, as well as the futures, of both schools.”

Ian Williamson, principal of Ballycastle High School, said: “The school communities can now look forward to modern educational facilities which will benefit the pupils of both schools and the wider Ballycastle community for many years to come.

“This is a unique opportunity to realise significant benefits for young people in Ballycastle. 

"The shared education campus safeguards the individual integrity, ethos and identity of both schools but maximises the opportunities of sharing in that context. 

"These curricular and extra-curricular opportunities will add significant value to the experience of our pupils and the wider community.”

The announcement comes just days after the department confirmed that there will be no new school buildings or extensions started in 2023/24 amid escalating cuts to the education budget.

Almost 30 schools face delays of "a number of years" for new buildings or an extension.

The Department of Education last week told The Irish News that schemes "in a very early stage of development and where planning has not started have been paused".