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  • Writer's pictureLove Ballymena

Castle Tower students celebrated following successful horticultural placements with MEA Council

Mayor with Castle Tower students, teaching staff and staff from Council’s Parks and Open Spaces Team who have facilitated the placements.

Mayor with Castle Tower students, teaching staff and staff from Council’s Parks and Open Spaces Team who have facilitated the placements.

SIX dedicated students from Castle Tower School in Ballymena have recently completed successful placements with Mid and East Antrim Borough Council’s Parks and Open Spaces Team.

Council worked closely with Castle Tower School to secure placements for students undertaking Lantra training.

As a number of the pupils have successfully obtained accreditation in the use of horticultural equipment - the school was keen to secure placements to provide them with experience in a real-life work environment and assist them in securing paid employment upon leaving school.

Student, Jack Simpson

Student Jack Simpson

Students Aaron Burns, Martin McKay and Zach Glover

Council’s Parks and Open Spaces team were delighted to offer placements to six students in total - three of whom completed placements at Carnfunnock Country Park with a further three students completing placements in the Mid Antrim area.

The partnership has been incredibly positive for both the students and the Parks and Open Spaces Team.

The student’s confidence has grown from strength to strength throughout the course of their placements as they completed new tasks and admired the fruits of their labours!

Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Alderman Gerardine Mulvenna, recently took time out of her busy schedule to welcome the students to her Parlour to recognise the end of their successful placements.

She said: “I was delighted to meet the students to hear all about the positive experiences they had whilst working with our amazing Parks and Open Spaces Team.

“It is encouraging to see that Council and Castle Tower School have been able to work together to deliver positive outcomes for these brilliant young people, which will hopefully lead to fantastic employment opportunities in the future.

“Council’s Labour Market Partnership (LMP) also supports a range of programmes to enhance the employability of local residents, including the recently launched Work Connections programme - which specifically supports residents with disabilities.”

Speaking about the student placements, Ciaran McCaughan, teacher at Castle Tower School, said:

“This has been an amazing opportunity for our students! In many ways it has ‘completed the circle’ of training into work experience which will hopefully lead to employment.

“Castle Tower school has invested in both staff and equipment to upskill post-16 students, helping them to obtain Level 2 qualifications in ‘land based’ studies and a wide range of Lantra skills including using lawnmowers, brush-cutters, ATVs, RTVs, tractors and telehandlers. These skills,combined with weekly work experience on the farm, hasallowed the students to progress onto work experience with the Council.”

Based on the success of this pilot scheme with Castle Tower School, Mid and East Antrim Borough Council has committed to supporting further placements going forward.

Work Connections is delivered as part of Mid and East Antrim Labour Market Partnership’s Action Plan which is funded by the Department for Communities. The Partnership offers a broad range of training and employability interventions which support people who are economically inactive, unemployed, or working less than they would like to into new job roles.

Work Connections and the Graduate Academy both specifically support people with disabilities and those with neurodiverse conditions via 1:2:1 mentoring, access to accredited training and placements in various job roles with a range of local employers.

To enquire about participating or request further information about any of this year’s proposed Labour Market Partnership projects, please email


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