Two Derry schools have been sharing their feelings about moving from their old buildings to a shared state-of-the-art campus.
Ebrington Primary School and Nursery School and Foyle College are both relocating to the new site at Limavady.
The principals of the school have spoken about how they felt leaving the their schools to enter the new schools and what they both expect from the move.
A new chapter began for Ebrington Primary and Nursery School when they made the move on March 20.
All 460 pupils and staff assembled for the last time in the main Assembly Hall of Ulsterville Avenue for one final assembly, before walking to their new school on the Limavady Road.
Nigel Dougherty, principal, welcomed the boys and girls, staff and governors.
He said it was a momentous occasion in the life of Ebrington Primary School day and although there was some sadness at leaving, it was also a day of anticipation for what lies ahead.
Mr Dougherty thanked the Board of Governors, especially Robin Young and Chairman John Manning for their wisdom and foresight in making the decision to move the school to new premises, ensuring that the school will prosper for a long time into the future.
Mr Dougherty asked everyone to remember with pride the many happy times, successes and achievements the school has had in this building and to remember those who taught and learned
“Let us also remember the many teachers, assistants and other staff who worked here and the many pupils who were taught in this building over the last 57 years”.
He added: “The building and grounds we are moving to are fantastic but it’s only a building – when we all arrive, it becomes a school and I want it to be a happy school. I know we will care and respect our new school and we will care and respect you and ensure that we live our school motto – Every Child, Every Chance, Every Day.”
Reverend Paul Linkens, Minister of Ebrington Church prayed that God’s blessing would continue in the new school.
Following the prayer, pupils, staff and governors, led by Mr Dougherty, set off on the walk to the new school as they were watched by parents, neighbours and clapped on by the pupils and staff of Oakgrove Primary, which was described as ‘a lovely gesture’.
Mr Dougherty added that it was ‘a great start to a new beginning’.
Foyle College are gearing up to also move to the new campus in the near future and Patrick Allen, Principal of Foyle College, said they are looking forward to the move.
“There is a real sense of excitement and anticipation around the relocation of Foyle College to the Limavady Road, especially now that Ebrington Primary School and Nursery Unit have moved into their stunning new premises,” he said.
“Subject departments at Foyle are currently busy planning the purchases required to deliver the 21st Century education that young people today need to develop the skills that employers are looking for. The relocation has been a long time coming but it is really exciting to be able to visit the site, to stand in classrooms, laboratories and social spaces and to image what it is going to be like in less than 12 months’ time.
“Whilst the building will have a strong Foyle College identity through the use of colours and graphics it is also light and bright and modern and we hope the pupils will really enjoy the new spaces.”
Mr Allen said that it will be an exciting time sharing a campus with a primary school and that this experience will especially help children transitioning from primary to secondary school education.
“Foyle already undertakes a lot of work with pupils from our feeder primary schools, of which Ebrington is one, especially in the area of STEM education,” he said.
“One of the areas that we might look to develop is a better understanding of the work that pupils do, particularly in P7, in order to help them make as smooth a transition as possible. Another area where we may benefit from Ebrington’s experience is with the Sustrans scheme which they have been involved in for a number of years. The relocation gives us an ideal opportunity to encourage more of Foyle’s pupils to walk or cycle to school as we look to promote a healthy lifestyle.”
Mr Allen said that, while Foyle College has enjoyed a rich history, the school is looking forward to a new future.
“There is a lot of history tied up in our current premises but then there was also a lot of history at Lawrence Hill and the various other locations that the school has occupied over the last 400 years,” he said.
“Whilst we are mindful of our heritage, like any school, we can never afford to become complacent and must always ensure that we are doing our best to prepare our pupils for the world that they will face. Whilst it is problematic for the teaching staff, in terms of moving between the two current campuses, one of the biggest changes of the move will be bringing all of the pupils together on a single campus.
“Having a separate Junior School at Springtown has had benefits over the last 30 plus years in helping pupils to transfer from Primary School but I am confident that we will be able to manage the situation successfully through the use of separate social areas that were incorporated into the design of the new building.”
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