Sir Jeffrey Donaldson learns of ambitious plans for Rowandale Integrated Primary School in Moira
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Sir Jeffrey, accompanied by David Montgomery and Gerald Steinberg, was welcomed to the school by principal Frances Hughes, where they had the opportunity to meet with pupils and staff, taking the opportunity to learn more about the growth of the school since its inception and exciting plans for their new permanent school.
Rowandale Integrated Primary School was founded by a steering group of local parents in 2005 with the aspiration and commitment to create a school which would enable parents to have the choice of an Integrated Education for their children.
With the financial support of the IEF to develop and market the school they worked tirelessly, until finally in 2007, and at the second attempt, they obtained approval from the Department of Education for the school to be opened with 18 children. In 2010, the parent’s group was presented with the prestigious Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.
The thriving Rowandale Community Playgroup was established in 2012. Today the school has a current intake of 354 pupils and has had a development proposal approved for nursery provision. Rowandale is also looking forward to a brand-new state of the art 14 classroom building made possible by the Fresh Start Agreement in Northern Ireland.
Sir Jeffrey said: “I am delighted to visit Rowandale today to see firsthand how this Integrated school in my constituency has flourished since its humble beginnings in 2007. It has taken a huge amount of effort by parents, staff and governors of the school to get the school to the position it is in today.
"I firmly support the right of parents to choose an Integrated Education and have no doubt that Rowandale will continue to make a vital contribution to positive community relations in the village and surrounding areas as well as provide an excellent standard of education for all the young people it serves.”
Principal Frances Hughes added: “Everyone at Rowandale is immensely proud of our journey whilst recognising the enormous effort it has taken to develop the school. I also want to acknowledge and thank the IEF whose support since we began has proved invaluable. The school has experienced continual year on year growth which, whilst bringing many challenges, is also testament to the demand for integrated education within our community.”
The IEF not only purchased the original site for Rowandale Integrated Primary School before it was vested by the Department of Education but it has also provided significant grants to the school to provide additional classrooms and teaching staff when needed to enable it to cope with the pressures of continual growth.
David Montgomery, IEF Campaign Chair, commented: “Rowandale epitomises the potential of a new Northern Ireland, a community that has come together across our traditional divide and worked hard to establish a better way forward for their children and young people.
"Rowandale’s ethos is one that cherishes our religious and cultural diversity and celebrates difference. It has been a long and difficult road but one that has created something truly special and will continue to benefit the area for generations to come.”