For many years now I have been campaigning for a new school building for Taughmonagh Primary school. The current school is in a bad state of repair and cramped, with many children having to be taught in mobile classrooms. After such a long campaign I am delighted that construction work will finally start this week.
After many meetings with the Education Minister and the Belfast Education and Library Board, funding was finally agreed during the summer for a new state of the art school. Staff and pupils will greatly benefit from this investment as it will provide much needed modern, safe and comfortable surroundings.
I want to pay tribute to the staff and parents who have campaigned tirelessly over many years. The Taughmonagh Community Forum and the community leaders must be congratulated for their perseverance and determination in fighting for this investment in their local community. I also want to thank Councillor Bobby Stoker, who joined me on numerous occasions in raising the issue with the Minister and BELB.
This investment is great news for the local community in Taughmonagh not least as the children will benefit from the best of modern facilities. It is vital, not only in Taughmonagh but across Northern Ireland, that children from socially deprived areas receive the best possible start to their education.
Unfortunately many parents in South Belfast struggle to find a nursery place for their children. As a result many children are already behind others in their age group coming into primary education. The gap widens further if children are not given the support and direction needed to advance into secondary education. Our children deserve the most modern resources and equipment in a comfortable environment
Children from socially deprived backgrounds often struggle to keep up with their peers from more affluent backgrounds. We need to give every child, their parents and teachers the support they require so that they can succeed at whatever path they chose in life.
Education is important to so many people across South Belfast. That is why I will continue to campaign for a new state of the art school for inner South Belfast that will see Bythefield, Donegall Road and Fane Street Primary schools coming together.
As your local representative in South Belfast I will also continue to support Sure Start and Home Start projects that help parents gain skills to give their children the best start to life and children to take a valuable steep into the formal education structure.