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NICIE Statement on Fresh Start Funding

NICIE Expresses Disappointment at the Recent Announcement on Fresh Start Funding

The Council for Integrated Education (NICIE) wants to express its disappointment at the recent announcements from the Minister of Education regarding Fresh Start Capital funding in relation to Shared and Integrated school building projects.

NICIE understands that the Minister is placing the remaining unfunded Fresh Start projects into the Department of Education’s Executive funded major capital works programme. This will allow the projects to continue to advance in planning and design. They will proceed to construction when affordable within the wider education budget context.

Given that some of these schools were announced for capital builds under Fresh Start as far back as March 2016 this move to the Executive budget represents an immense source of disappointment for the Integrated schools involved who between them are educating over 6600 children and young people. Entire school communities are affected by this, in that the fulfilment of their plans for better accommodation for the children and young people are likely to be delayed.

Why did Integrated schools, in particular, need this money?

In the mid-1990s a decision was taken to provide newly built Integrated schools with permanent buildings for only their administration blocks including the multi-purpose hall for assembly, dining and sport and construct the rest of the school in semi-permanent buildings.  The semi-permanent buildings which resulted from this decision have reached the end of their useful life and need replaced. 

Yet, whilst the buildings are less than satisfactory for today’s needs, the Integrated schools themselves are thriving, growing in popularity and many are indeed oversubscribed.

Historical Context for Fresh Start Programme

There were two significant announcements for Fresh Start capital funding in March 2016 and November 2018 which outlined contributions of up to £500 million over 10 years of new capital funding to support Shared and Integrated Education, subject to individual projects being agreed between the Executive and the UK Government. It is important to note that this funding was coming from the UK Government and therefore to an extent relieved some of the pressure of the Department of Education’s budget for capital buildings. However, the UK Government has now removed the £150 million and repurposed the money. This action will result on increased pressure on an already stretched budget for school buildings, with many long-held hopes of school communities for new buildings, now being deferred.

NICIE Appeal to Government

NICIE would appeal to both the UK Government and the Northern Ireland Executive to rethink this decision given the impact it will have on 6600 children and young people and the broader Integrated school communities.

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Council For Integrated Education

NI Council for Integrated Education
1st Floor, James House
2-4 Cromac Avenue

T: 02896 944 200


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