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Ruane unveils New Approach to school building projects

6 March, 2008

Sinn Féin Education Minister, Caitríona Ruane, today marked a key milestone in the Schools' Modernisation Programme, which will deliver the construction of almost 70 new schools in the next four years.

This ambitious building programme, worth over £500million, will now be delivered through the Department of Education's new major capital works framework, which was unveiled during a launch event at Castle Gardens Primary School in Newtownards.

Speaking to an audience, which included the construction companies who will work with the Department and the Strategic Investment Board (SIB) to deliver the programme, the Minister underlined the significance of the announcement.

Ms Ruane said:

"Today represents a major step forward for our capital investment programme. With the introduction of this major works framework, we are rising to the challenge of delivering significant investment in the schools estate, by providing the vehicle for getting projects on the ground more quickly and efficiently than ever.

"I congratulate those contractors and their design teams who are joining us in this important partnership. This framework will provide much greater transparency and therefore confidence in the business opportunities that we will bring to them. Together we can all now focus on delivering tangible benefits for the pupils and staff in our schools.

"The Executive's Investment Strategy makes it clear that in inviting procurement of infrastructure programmes we will seek opportunities to promote social inclusion and equality of opportunity. It is clearly envisaged that we will do this through the use of employment plans, building opportunities for local apprenticeships into major delivery contracts and through a tendering process that prioritises the most economically advantageous option."

The frameworks approach embodies a partnering type ethos, permitting earlier engagement between the designer, the contractor and the client thereby delivering high quality schools whilst providing value for money.

Contractors on this framework, who have been chosen through a challenging tendering process, will work in partnership with the client to ensure that the schools modernisation programme is delivered on time and in budget.

The first project to pass through the framework is the Lisnagelvin Primary School project. This is a new, 21 classroom primary school with an estimated construction value in excess of £4million.

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