Primary and nursery pupils from an Omagh special needs school destroyed in a weekend fire will temporarily relocated at the Resource Centre on the site of Knockavoe School, Strabane.
It is planned that the Arvalee School and Resource Centre children will commence their education on the site with from Tuesday, September 11.
Further to the agreement of the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools (CCMS) and the Board of Governors, the WELB has accepted the offer of temporary emergency accommodation at St Eugene’s High School, Castlederg. It is intended that the post primary age pupils who are enrolled in Arvalee School will commence their placement in Castlederg on Tuesday, September 18.
A significant number of the Key Stage 4 pupils will commence attendance at the South West College (SWC) Omagh in the next few days.
Staff at Arvalee School, supported by a team of WELB officers, and staff from the Western Health Trust are making arrangements to enable both schools to be utilised to meet the needs of children and young people with special educational needs. The Transport Section within the WELB will engage with Arvalee School and with parents in relation to the revised emergency transport arrangements that are required. Indeed, parents have volunteered to show their support for the preparation of this temporary accommodation for their children and young people.
It must be emphasised that these emergency placements have been identified pending the reconstruction of temporary accommodation at the Arvalee School, Omagh. In this regard, the WELB is working closely with the Department of Education (DE) to progress the replacement of damaged accommodation at Arvalee. It is anticipated that this would be available for pupils from January 2013.
Ultimately, a new school is required. In recent days, the Minister for Education, John O’Dowd, has reinforced his commitment to support the progression of a new build for Arvalee School and Resource Centre on the Lisanelly Shared Educational Campus site. This has been greatly appreciated by Arvalee School, the WELB, and the parents of children and young people in the Omagh area.
Jonathan Gray, the Board of Governors and the WELB are grateful to parents, as well as the children and young people in Arvalee School for the tolerance that they have demonstrated at this difficult time.
Offers of support from the Western Health and Social Care Trust (WHSCT), Libraries NI, councils, churches, schools and other voluntary groups within the Omagh community have been received and warmly appreciated.
Work has commenced to facilitate the clearance of debris from the Arvalee School site. In this regard, the School and the WELB have been grateful for the support received from the NI Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS), the PSNI and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), as well as other public services which have consistently provided practical interventions.