A massive transformation of a rural county Armagh primary school will begin in the coming weeks.
St Mary’s Primary School, Granemore, which is situation just outside Keady will see new classrooms installed as well as much-needed parking facilities.
The school has suffered over the years due to lack of parking facilities which led to gridlock in the morning and afternoon.
SDLP councillors Thomas O’Hanlon and Sharon Haughey-Grimley have welcomed the confirmation that significant works are to begin at the school in the coming weeks.
The works come after a long campaign by the school’s principal, staff, Board of Governors and the two local councillors to have suitable and modern accommodation provided at the school.
Councillor O’Hanlon, who is a past pupil of the school explained: “For many years the accommodation provision has been totally inadequate and the schools management and staff have been working hard to have the accommodation improved. We have been working with the Principal, Board of Governors and Parents of pupils at the school to press successive Education Ministers to act.
“I am delighted to have received confirmation from the Southern Education and Library Board that our efforts are finally paying off. Work will commence on site in the coming weeks for what we hope is phase one of the proposed works.
“The works see a massive transformation of the site with four new classrooms being constructed as well as much needed parking provided. The SELB have also confirmed that they have submitted an additional businesses case to the Department of Education for the next phase of works which will see the creation of a new multipurpose hall, extensive refurbishment of the school building and improved toilet provision.
“This investment is long overdue and will see suitable and modern school developed in Granemore. For far too long the children have been thought in and teachers have been working in substandard conditions.
“Classrooms are small, there is no Sports / Assembly hall and the parking at the school is treacherous, all this is set to change in the months ahead and would not have been possible without the sterling work and campaigning of the outgoing Principal Mr Mallon and the school’s Board Of Governors.”
Councillor Haughey-Grimley added: “The quality of education at St Mary’s is outstanding despite the outdated accommodation that all in the school have had to put up with in recent years. There have been many false dawns but finally we are making progress and significant progress at that.
“We have been working closely with the schools’ management over recent years and have been overwhelmed by the commitment of all the staff, both teaching and non-teaching in the school, to try and force the Department of Education into action.
“It has been a massive issue within the local community and local parents have been instrumental in forcing the department into investing in Granemore, their letter writing campaign has been tremendous.
“In addition to the obvious accommodation needs at the school, parents are constantly raising very serious and genuine concerns about the lack of parking and drop-off/pick-up facilities at the school; it has only been by the grace of God that no one has been seriously injured at the school busy periods both in the morning and afternoons.
“I am delighted that a contractor has now been appointed to begin the works and understand that some preparatory works will commence in the coming weeks with construction to begin in January 2015.
“Temporary mobile classrooms are to be provided at the front of the site which will be used to accommodate the children whilst works are ongoing to construct the new buildings to the rear of the site.
“There will be some disruption whilst works are ongoing, however I know these will be all worthwhile when the works are completed in the months ahead and we all look forward to the provision of the much needed modern school building which the children of this area so rightly deserve.”