A £14 million project to construct replacement premises for the high-achieving Bangor Grammar School, with capacity for around 850 pupils, is underway in the suburban Gransha area of Bangor in County Down.
The project is being carried out by Main Contractors Farrans Construction.
Speaking of the new school, Education Minister, Caitríona Ruane said: “Bangor Grammar School has been part of the fabric of the town for over 150 years and this investment marks the beginning of a new era for the school.
“The new facilities for Bangor Grammar represent an investment of almost £14million by my Department in the future of children in the local area. I passionately believe that schools must be equipped with facilities that enable them to deliver quality education for all children, which is why I have consistently spent virtually all of the capital funding available to me.
“I also believe that as educationalists we must ensure that children of all abilities can avail of such facilities and that they are not reserved only for the privileged. I removed state-sponsored academic selection because the international evidence overwhelmingly shows that it is a failed system, both educationally and socially. Selection only serves to deepen divisions in society and it is fundamentally immoral.
“I would urge Bangor Grammar to embrace this approach and remind all grammar schools that there is nothing to fear in moving away from selection. By showing leadership and courage, grammar schools can play a major part in realising a vision of education that genuinely puts children first.”
The Minister continued: “I am very proud of the fact that 68 major capital school projects have been undertaken or completed during my time in office, an investment of over £570million in our schools’ estate. This project for Bangor Grammar is one of 13 that are able to commence after I secured further funding from the Executive.
“And I will continue to press the case for the much needed funding that will enable us to put right the historic underinvestment in the schools’ estate right across the north. I must, however, prioritise frontline services in this very difficult financial climate so that we can continue to implement the reforms that have delivered real improvements in achievement levels.”
Concluding, the Minister said: “ I pay particular tribute to the Principal, governors, staff and parents who have worked hard to get this project off the ground and I hope that the new facilities will ensure that the school continues for many years to come.”
Bangor Grammar School is an all-boys, voluntary grammar school founded in 1856 by the Conservative politician and Bangor man, Col The Hon. Robert Ward PC MP(Eire) who lived at Castle Ward. The school, until June 2011, comprised two parts, Connor House, a preparatory school for pupils aged 4–11 and a secondary school for pupils aged 12–18. Connor House closed at the end of the 2010-11 academic year.
Traditionally, Bangor Grammar has a strong record of educating boys, and pupils perform well in academic examinations. In the 2009/2010 academic year, 96% of boys sitting GCSE examinations gained seven passes at grade C or higher and 70% of boys sitting A2 examinations achieved three passes at grade C or higher.
Farrans Construction is a building and civil engineering contractor headquartered in Northern Ireland and operating throughout the UK and Ireland.
The company is part of the Northstone group of companies which in turn is wholly owned by CRH plc, the multi-national building materials group which employs over 60,000 people world-wide with an annual turnover of €24billion.
Farrans continue to develop excellence in all aspects of building and civil engineering while at the same time the boundaries of service level delivered to their customers are continually being extended.
At the heart of this approach is the recognition of the company’s wider social responsibility. They share their workplace with communities and the natural environment making it vital that they implement sustainable business practices across their operation.