EA is ‘committed’ to Ballyclare Nursery move plans

The Education Authority (EA) has stated that it remains “committed to delivering” on proposals to relocate Ballyclare Nursery School to the site of a former primary school in the town.

The body moved to clarify its position after concerns were voiced about the length of time it was taking for the move to be formalised.

The nursery facility is currently located in the Grange Drive area of Ballyclare, but the building has deteriorated over recent years.

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In December 2020 the Times reported how discussions around the proposed relocation of Ballyclare Nursery were “reaching the final stages” with staff and parents keen to move to the former Tir na nOg site on the town’s Doagh Road.

Former Education Minister Peter Weir and Principal of Ballyclare Nursery School, Emma Corry.

Earlier that year the principal and board of governors at the nursery received an offer from the Ballyclare and Ballygowan Parish to relocate to the vacated Tir na nOg site.

The proposals have been backed by Peter Weir and Michelle McIlveen MLA during their terms of office as Northern Ireland’s Education Minister.

Speaking to this newspaper this week, a spokesperson for the nursery school said: “The current building is past its best. We take 156 children every year and will be catering for this number in September.

“For a controlled school to receive an offer like this from the Catholic Church is an unknown opportunity in Northern Ireland and one we’re very grateful of.

“We are extremely keen to move to the former Tir na nOg site. It would be central for the whole community in the town, which is continuing to expand.

“Peter Weir and Michelle McIlveen have both voiced support for the plans.

“The proposals have been with the Department of Education and the EA for months and we’re still waiting.

“We’d hoped the move would’ve been sorted for the coming school year, but now it looks like that won’t happen.”

In a statement issued on Monday (May 9), a spokesperson for the EA said: “The EA is in the process of agreeing the terms of a lease with the Trustees.

“Once a lease is in place, the appropriate refurbishment and improvement works will be carried out.

“We remain committed to delivering the project, and in line with the agreed plan, the EA is striving to have premises ready as soon as is practicable.”

Commenting on the issue, a spokesperson for the Ballyclare and Ballygowan Parish stated: “The parish community of Ballyclare and Ballygowan has made significant investment in maintaining the Tir na nOg site on the town’s Doagh Road and looks forward to being able to transfer it to EA as soon as practically possible.”

South Antrim UUP MLA Steve Aiken branded the delays in getting the nursery moved to the Tir na nOg site “unacceptable”.

Dr Aiken continued: “Having been reassured by Michelle McIlveen in the Assembly that the issues had been sorted, I was disappointed, as I’m sure every parent who has a child at the nursery or is intending for their child to attend the nursery was, to find out the issues had still not been resolved.

“The plans should be progressing rapidly and they require urgent action.”


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