The Most Reverend Noel Treanor, Bishop of Down & Connor, visited St. Brigid’s Primary School, Ballymoney, to bless the school following the completion of a £1.3 million pounds refurbishment programme.
Bishop Treanor celebrated mass with the school community before visiting the school and seeing for himself the wonderful new facilities. His tour of St. Brigid’s was conducted by the Primary 7 members of the Pupil Council and they were accompanied by the Parish Priest Fr O’Brien and the principal Mr Malachy Conlon.
Building development work started in the school back in 2008, with improvements in disability facilities and in 2010 this was followed by the construction of a new school entrance. A major phase of building improvements was undertaken in 2011. In 2012 the classrooms were refurbished, new lighting was installed throughout the school and levelled access and new entrance doors were introduced across the site.
The final phase of the programme was completed in 2015 with an extension to the Primary 6 and Primary 7 classrooms; an extension to the main building to accommodate changing facilities, additional toilets, a lift to access the first floor; double glazing of the assembly hall; perimeter fencing and pedestrian access improvements; and a purpose built corridor to connect the classrooms on the first floor.
While this work was on-going the school was also investing in ICT improvements in all key stages, with the instillation of interactive whiteboards in all rooms. The school was completely redecorated and with the support of the PTA all of the carpets, blinds and curtains in the school were replaced.
Major improvements to the grounds were also undertaken with the construction of an outdoor classroom, playground shelter, nature area and a substantial investment in outdoor play equipment.
Mr Conlon acknowledged the role of parents: “None of this work would have been possible without the finance, time and skills of our parents. There is a wonderful sense of what we can achieve by working together in St. Brigid’s. The building programme was not easy to manage, spread as it was over many years. It felt that we had to fight for every pound to finance this work and with the support of the governors and Fr O’Brien, our Trustee, we have achieved something that we can all be very proud of. Along the way we have received the assistance of very able architects and builders who helped us realise our vision for the school. It would be important too, to acknowledge the role of local politicians, of all parties, who help lobby on our behalf and I would also add members of the school building teams in CCMS, the Department of Education and the Education Authority who can be overlooked in this process. During the programme the children and staff have been very patient, with many classes being taught in the assembly hall and the principal’s office. I never once heard a grumble from the children and we always kept the pupils involved in the design process.”
Bishop Treanor referenced the history of Catholic education in Ballymoney which can be traced back to the purchase of two houses in Castle Street on the site of the church, which were bought by the parish priest and converted into a school in 1853. This was followed by the building of a Public Elementary School in 1869 and its replacement, after an accidental fire, in 1925.
Today there are 212 pupils in the school and in September of this year St. Brigid’s had its biggest intake in many years when 38 pupils enrolled in Primary 1. The school also has two Learning Support Centres for children with moderate to severe learning difficulties. In 2013 the school had a very successful inspection report and with the improved facilities St. Brigid’s PS can look forward confidently to a very bright future.