The first sod was cut on the new £20 million Castle Tower Special School in Ballymena yesterday, bringing hope to a town that has been devastated by impending job losses at the Michelin tyre factory.
The new build for Castle Tower was approved by Education Minister John O’Dowd in June 2012.
Speaking at the Trostan Avenue site, where he cut the first sod, the minister said: “It is a great pleasure to be here today to join the celebrations for the new school build.
“The start of construction work on this site represents an investment of circa £20 million by my department and this financial input will have a major impact on the school and the community and create many positive outcomes for both.
“Building work has commenced and over the coming months your new school will take shape.”
The new build for the school includes the provision of a hydrotherapy pool and medical and therapy rooms.
The minister added: “This is an exciting period for all the pupils and staff.
“I have no doubt the new facilities will enhance the learning experience and ensure that Castle Tower is well equipped to deliver the curriculum for now and for future generations to come.”
Castle Tower School is a special controlled school catering for 3- to 19-year-old pupils with moderate to complex needs.
It was established in September 2007 following the amalgamation of three special schools in Ballymena.