A ceremonial sod-cutting at the Tempo Road site marked the official start of construction on the new Devenish College building.

Education Authority (EA) Chairwoman Sharon O’Connor marked the occasion with Simon Mowbray, Principal of Devenish College, governors, Education Authority officials, Department of Education officials, representatives from main contractor Glasgiven Contracts and lead designer Isherwood and Ellis along with pupils and staff of Devenish College.

During the event, Mr. Mowbray commented: “It is a landmark day for our school and I would like to thank our governors, staff and parents for their support in getting the project this far.”

He continued: “We look forward to unveiling a new school with enhanced facilities to better serve our children, staff and community. We have been delighted to see a significant rise in the standards of our pupil outcomes and in our enrolment over the last number of years and we feel our new facilities will allow us to progress to even better things in the future”.

The new school, which is to accommodate 800 pupils aged 11 to 18, will also feature a standalone sports facility comprising of a four court multipurpose sports hall, fitness suite, teaching and changing facilities with direct access to the four pitches at the lower end of the site, for the benefit of pupils, staff and the local community.

Praising the dedication of the school staff, governors and education officials who have brought the project to construction stage, Ms. O’Connor said: “I wish to pay tribute to the staff and board of governors for their hard work. This new build signifies a new chapter in our school’s history.”

“It’s an exciting day for everyone involved in Devenish College – the pupils, staff past and present, parents, governors, the planning and design teams, the architects, consultants and contractors, the Department for Education and indeed the wider community,” she added.

The new facilities are funded by the Department of Education, and delivered through the EA’s Major Capital Works Programme.

Speaking to The Impartial Reporter about the progress of the new school, Mr. Mowbray said: “I am very pleased to report that the work on the new site is progressing very well and is on programme.”

Work on the Tempo Road site commenced this year on July 1.

“It has largely centred on the reduction of approximately seven metres from the top of the hill and its movement to the lower part of the site, where the pitches will be located,” Mr. Mowbray explained, adding: “In total, approximately 100,000 cubic metres of soil has been moved so far.”

Mr. Mowbray also noted that the construction of the right hand turning lane on the Tempo Road is “nearing completion”.

“The top of the site is now at the finished level and over the last three weeks, the foundations have been poured for what we know as Level two of the project. This will house our technology and design suite, maths, science, art, ICT, and Home Economics departments. The steel framework is in fabrication and it is anticipated that this will be erected before Christmas. Attention then turns to Level one and Level zero modules and this will result in further shaping of the groundworks of the hill,” he shared.

“We have been delighted with the professionalism and dedication of the design team, Isherwood and Ellis and the main contractors, Glasgiven Contracts. We are currently on schedule and it is anticipated that the school will be completed by November 2021. We look forward to seeing further progress over the next 24 months and are hoping for a nice mild, dry winter,” Mr. Mowbray concluded.