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Primary school and construction company combine to build digital future for pupils

A Northern Ireland construction company is helping to build a digital future for the pupils of Holy Family Primary School in Magherafelt as part of a three year initiative merging the public and private sectors.

In a partnership worth approximately £40,000 to the school, Magherafelt-based Oakleaf Contracts (Europe) Ltd will enhance Holy Family’s digital capabilities with the provision of much-needed iPads, software and management services over the next three years. 

The deal was announced at a special school assembly which was attended by Mr John Collings, Director of Education for the Education Authority (EA), and Ms Anna McKavanagh, C2k Support Manager for the North Eastern Area.

Speaking at the launch, Holy Family School Principal Peter Donnelly said that, in the face of increasing budget pressures, it was time for the public and private sectors to ‘think outside the box’ when it comes to education.

“I believe that this partnership marks a new era and a new way of thinking about ways of supporting schools within their communities,” said Mr Donnelly.

“The current declining financial climates within schools are forcing school leaders to think outside the box in terms of finding ways of securing support for schools and I hope that this model can be replicated on a wider scale as many businesses are very keen to support their local community schools in a range of ways.

“Our school has a strong tradition of serving the Magherafelt community with the highest standards of educational provision and this partnership will serve to ensure that we continue to be innovative and lead the way in terms of educational provision for the future.

“I would like to commend Oakleaf Contracts on their forward thinking and thank them for this incredible support which will enhance our digital learning tools, expand the children’s digital skills and assist with learning and teaching across the whole school,” he added.

Declan O’Neill, Group Finance Director for Oakleaf Contracts (Europe) Ltd, said: “Being part of the business community, we recognise our responsibility in supporting educators in their key role to develop skilled and entrepreneurial, confident, fulfilled young people.

“We welcomed this opportunity for Oakleaf to provide Holy Family PS with enhanced access to technology and we are very excited by the prospect that our involvement will empower children aged between 4 and 11 and help them develop skills which are vital in preparing them for the future. This was a powerful impetus in our involvement.

“As the Finance partner, we worked closely with the school to source and procure products tailored to agreed specific needs, using our business resources to control expenditure and secure significant discounts from initial tender submissions.

“We share a passion and belief that children have unique talents, diverse skills sets and potential to achieve which is not necessarily reflected within an academic results-based matrix.  Hopefully our investment will provide an opportunity for every child irrespective of ability to benefit from a resource rich environment and raise standards at each stage of development.

“This has been a positive experience for Oakleaf and we will follow developments within the school with interest and enthusiasm,” concluded Mr O’Neill.

Mr John Collings, Director of Education for the Education Authority (EA), welcomed the announcement and said it bode well for the future.

“I am delighted to be here today at the announcement of this partnership between Holy Family Primary School and Oakleaf Contracts which is a wonderful example of how the public and private sectors can work together to create a better future for our children,” said Mr Collings.

“We hope that this inspires other companies in the private sector to use their own resources and procurement processes to help our schools and make a practical and valuable contribution in preparing young people for the world which they will shape.”

Holy Family Primary School was formed in the early 1980s as a direct amalgamation of St Joseph’s and St. Mary’s Primary Schools.

Oakleaf Contracts was founded in 2000 and is one of Ireland’s leading commercial drywall subcontractors having worked on key signature projects across multiple sectors including T2 Dublin Airport and the Enniskillen and Omagh hospitals. The company is currently working on projects in London, Dublin and Belfast including the Ulster Hospital redevelopment in Belfast.

Pictured: Holy Family pupils Lily (left) and Caoimhe (right) with Oakleaf director Declan O’Neill and School Principal Peter Donnelly.

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