Castle Tower update at community event

The Braid
The Braid

An insight into the building of what is expected to be one of the largest Special Schools in the UK will be given at an event in The Braid tonight (January 26).

‘Castle Tower’ School and ‘raising awareness of disability discrimination’ will be the main themes of the event, funded by the Department of Justice through the PCSP, which is to be held on Monday, January 26, at 7pm.

A number of senior politicians as well as local councillors, educationalists, community leaders, parents and pupils and members of the public will attend the event to hear about the proposed new Castle Tower School and how to combat discrimination on the grounds of disability.

The Mayor Cllr Audrey Wales will welcome ministers, the school principal, architects and pupils who will, during the evening, give a variety of presentations on the two main themes.

A number of pupils at the school will speak about their hopes for the new build while others will sing and a percussion band will play.

Chief architect Arthur Sloan from Isherwood and Ellis will give a detailed presentation on the design for the school during the evening which is open to all.

Ballymena’s long-awaited ‘Castle Tower’ looks set to be the biggest special school in the United Kingdom, catering for the educational needs of 285 pupils in a £21m state-of-the-art building set on a 13 acre site.

It is understood the proposed new build will be the biggest capital project ever undertaken by the North Eastern Education & Library Board (NEELB).

It is also understood the school is scheduled for handover by Easter 2017 and will cater for the full spectrum of learning difficulties of 285 pupils aged three to 19.

Castle Tower was established in September, 2007, following the amalgamation of the three special schools in Ballymena - Dunfane, Beechgrove, and Loughan - and the new building on the site of the old Boys’ & Girl’s Intermediate at Trostan Avenue will bring all three under one roof.

Funding of £21m for the much needed new school was announced in 2012 by Education Minister John O’Dowd.