400-Year-Old Foyle College is celebrating a new chapter as they kick off the new year by relocating to their brand-new £27m campus.

The state-of-the-art college, located on the Limavady Road in Derry, welcomed the first batch of pupils through its doors on Monday 8th January, with the rest of the 815 pupils following throughout the week. The non-denominational grammar school dates back to 1617, when it opened at Society Street within the city walls.

Heron Bros was the main contractor on the £27m project which has enabled the co-location of Foyle College and Ebrington PS & Nursery in three separate new-build replacement schools at the former Clooney Army Base site. Historically the site was the ‘home’ of American Navy, and played a key role in the Allied Forces’ battle plans in World War II.

High-tech education facilities were delivered for the new grammar school providing 13,056m² of permanent teaching accommodation, grass pitches, five synthetic tennis courts and a 3G pitch for a capacity of 850 students. Ebrington Primary School is 3,050m² in area and provides 16 classrooms for a capacity of 440 pupils. The separate nursery unit is 328m² and caters for a capacity of 60 pupils.   

The works were programmed to be completed in sections, with the Primary School and Nursery and their associated external works completed first. Phase one was completed in February 2017, with the primary school and nursery being occupied with staff and pupils in March 2017. Phase two was completed in December 2017 with staff and students occupying Foyle College in January 2018.

Foyle College Principal Patrick Allen described the new campus as “state of the art”.

“It’s just indescribable, words fail me. We have 25 acres of grounds, a maximum capacity of 850, a fantastic music suite, a sports hall, an arts suite, state of the art classrooms and technology that’s ready for the 2020s never mind 2018. We’ve been treading water for a very long time waiting on this build. It’s really going to make a massive impact on learning and teaching for the 21st century.”

“It has been a huge team effort over a very long period of time to get us to where we are today, in this building with these marvellous technologies. It really is exciting times at the school and I’m getting a real buzz from seeing the kids walking around today goggle-eyed, but also from the staff who have put in so much work to get ready for this move. Everyone worked really hard to get the new classrooms set up and to see them buzzing and excited about the new technologies and facilities available to us is extremely rewarding.”

Robin Young, chairman of the board of governors, said it was an exciting time for the school.

“They’re all very excited. Obviously moving house, you’re excited the first time you move in. To have the school on one site is a first for many years for Foyle and certainly the staff will appreciate not having to move between the old junior school and the senior school two or three times a day as was the case before.”

Damian Heron, Group Managing Director of Heron Bros commented, “Heron Bros is delighted to handover this marvellous campus to Foyle College and Ebrington Primary School and Nursery. We have enjoyed a very positive relationship with the schools and the entire project team which enabled us to deliver a high quality project ahead of schedule.”

“Although it has just been completed, the project is already award-winning. The £27m campus picked up the prestigious accolade  of the ‘Most Considerate Site 2017 for £10m – £50m Projects’ at the Considerate Constructors Scheme National Site Awards. Heron Bros was acknowledged for demonstrating the very highest level of consideration in respect of the community, environment and workforce.”

“We are incredibly proud of our whole project team and their dedication to operating our construction site to such a high standard. We look forward to see what the future holds for the schools and wish the staff and pupils success and happiness in their new home.”

To learn more about the scheme, you can view the full project profile here: https://www.heronbros.com/project/foyle-college-and-ebrington-ps-nursery/.