The Department of Education hopes work on a new shared education campus in Ballycastle will start before the end of the year.
Heron Bros have been awarded the contract to build the £70m pound facility which will be shared between Ballycastle High School and Cross and Passion College.
The new campus will accommodate around 1,200 pupils.
The main campus building and sports hall will be located on the current Ballycastle High School site, while the Cross and Passion site will accommodate outdoor sports facilities and a changing pavilion.
“I am delighted to announce that the Department of Education has appointed a contractor for this unique project, which represents a significant investment of almost £70million,” Permanent Secretary, Dr Mark Browne, said.
“The design and build contractor, Heron Bros, will now begin final design work with a view to commencing construction towards the end of the year.
“This scheme marks a new era for Ballycastle High School and Cross and Passion College. These two schools have a long and successful history of working together for the benefit of their pupils and the wider community. While both schools will continue to retain their own individual identities within the new campus, the modern fit-for-purpose accommodation will further enhance shared delivery of the curriculum.
“The project also brings opportunities to benefit the wider Ballycastle community. I am pleased that Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council is working with the Department on this exciting project and providing additional investment for top quality sports facilities which will be available for community use. The project will also include additional purpose-built Youth Club facilities.”
Geraldine Duffy, Principal of Cross and Passion College, said: “Both schools are delighted that our shared education campus has reached this exciting milestone and we wish to thank all the key stakeholders who have worked tirelessly over the last number of years to achieve this amazing outcome. This is a wonderful opportunity for the young people and wider community in North Antrim. It is testament to the vision and dedication of our predecessors from both schools that we have reached this significant stage.
“Each year the two schools welcome visitors from across the world, keen to gain insight into how both schools provide unique experiences in their own rights, but also enhance their provision through sharing pupil learning and staff development opportunities, via their close working relationship. This investment protects the history, as well as the futures, of both schools.”
Ian Williamson, Principal of Ballycastle High School, said: “The school communities can now look forward to modern educational facilities which will benefit the pupils of both schools and the wider Ballycastle community for many years to come.
“This is a unique opportunity to realise significant benefits for young people in Ballycastle. The shared education campus safeguards the individual integrity, ethos and identity of both schools but maximises the opportunities of sharing in that context. These curricular and extra-curricular opportunities will add significant value to the experience of our pupils and the wider community.”
Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know.