The new build for Devenish College is nearing completion in what is welcome news for the education sector in County Fermanagh after “unprecedented conditions” hit the construction sector and led to delays.

The principal of Devenish College, Simon Mowbray, has said “the finish line is very clearly in sight” for completion of the new-build facility at the Tempo Road.

When the build is complete, the school community of 695 students and almost 100 staff will move from the current site at Algeo Drive, Derrychara.

In a statement to this newspaper, Mr. Mowbray said: “Over the last three months, construction on our new school has made very positive progress and has gained significant traction. The events of the last 36 months, including Covid-19, cost increases, a global economic crisis and other events outside of our control, have created a perfect storm that has hindered progress.

“However, the Governors and I are confident that we have emerged from the other side of these problems, and we will enjoy the benefits of the new school within the next few months.”

He continued: “It is clear that the finish line is very clearly in sight and our whole school community is really looking forward to utilising the fantastic facilities and opportunities that the new school will provide.

“It is only when you are on site that the scale and progress already made is clearly evident, as much of the school is not visible from the road.”

Looking to the ‘exciting’ future, he said: “Over the coming weeks, we will be sharing further details with our students and parents, and the wider community. The next few months are going to be incredibly exciting.”

A spokesperson from the Education Authority (EA) anticipated that the school will be occupied by staff and students in September.

The spokesperson said: “Construction of the new Devenish College is ongoing and it is anticipated that students and staff will be able to occupy the school from the beginning of September.”

Addressing the delays to the site, the EA spokesperson said: “The main contractor has faced unprecedented conditions which have affected the construction industry since 2020, including the Covid-19 pandemic, global inflationary price increases and geo-political changes.

“These have all negatively impacted the supply of materials, labour, and resources, and in turn have contributed to the prolongation of the delivery programme.

“The EA continues to work closely with all parties to ensure that the project is successfully delivered to meet the required standards and expectations of this state-of-the-art school as soon as practically possible.”

The EA spokesperson concluded: “The EA continues to work closely with all parties to ensure that the project is successfully delivered to meet the required standards and expectations of this school as soon as practically possible.”

Plans were first lodged for such a site when Enniskillen High School and the Duke of Westminster amalgamated in 2005, and were long in place when Lisnaskea High School amalgamated into Devenish College in 2013.

The works progress began in 2019 – almost 15 years after they had been initially planned.

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