Pupils, parents, staff and special guests gathered at Knockevin Early Years Centre, Dundrum, to celebrate the opening of the new school with an official opening ceremony on Tuesday 27 June.
Knockevin Early Years Centre is a purpose built facility for very young children with a range of complex special educational needs. It was funded through the Department of Education’s School Enhancement Programme.
Welcoming everyone to the event, Knockevin Principal, Ann Cooper explained to the assembled guests that the new school had a positive impact on the children.
She added: “You only have to look at the children who are here every day to see the difference the new school has made for them and their parents. The combination of specialist facilities, therapies provided on site and the dedicated staff at Knockevin means that each child has all the support they need to ensure they have the best opportunity to develop, learn and grow.
“I wish to thank everyone involved in making our dreams of a new school possible. We are delighted to be celebrating with an official opening ceremony today and I look forward to welcoming and supporting children here for years to come.”
Speaking at the official opening event, EA Chairperson Sharon O’Connor said: “I am honoured to be back at Knockevin Early Years Centre today and to be part of the official opening ceremony. I am always struck by the warmth and the positive atmosphere as I enter this bright and modern school.
“The new school build is innovative in its design and provides a welcoming environment for the children. It provides wonderful opportunities for learning and development with specialist equipment and facilities to meet the diverse needs of all the children. The children also benefit from outside play surrounded by stunning mountain and sea views across Dundrum Bay.
“This represents a £1.7m investment in providing support of children with the most complex needs in those important early years. I wish the children, staff and governors all the very best for the future as they continue to enjoy their new school.”
The event was also attended by special guest and former Principal, Anne Blakely who said: “The new Knockevin Early Years Centre is a welcome addition to Knockevin Special School which caters for young people up to 19 years old. Children with special educational needs deserve the best that we can possibly provide for them and the Early Years Centre does just that.
“I am delighted to see the pupils and staff so well settled and making the best use of every aspect of this wonderful new school to give our children the best start in life.”
During the event, guests were entertained with musical performances by pupils from the senior school. The event closed with the unveiling of the plaque which marks the special occasion and guests were treated to a tour of the new facility.