January 19 In the Press

Education inspectorate places school as practice leader for literacy and numeracy

By Eleanor McGillie

MARKETHILL High School has been identified by the Educational and Training Inspectorate for Northern Ireland as a school of “very good practice” in literacy and numeracy.

Principal James Maxwell made the announcement at this year’s Open Night which attracted approximately 200 prospective pupils and their parents.

Mr Maxwell told the audience how Markethill High School, a school where pupils live by the motto, Believe to Achieve, will be visited in the next month by inspectors who will examine how the school has developed literacy and numeracy initiatives in the past three years and how its practice can then be shared with other schools across the province.

Speaking to parents and pupils, he said: “This is a fantastic achievement for Markethill High School’s staff and pupils.  Markethill High School is a school which, in all ways, has delivered on its aims. This is, quite simply, a school which achieves.

“The number of pupils leaving us with five or more A*- C GCSE grades or more is currently 89 per cent, our highest results ever, a full 25 per cent above the Northern Ireland average and making us the top performing non-selective, co-educational 11-16 school in the SELB.

“This also puts the school into the top 6 per cent of non-selective schools in Northern Ireland. Moreover, at Key Stage 3, in Year 10, 85 per cent of our pupils achieve the benchmark Level 5 or above in English, and 83 per cent in Maths. This places the school into the top 20 per cent of non-selective schools in Northern Ireland for both these subjects.

“The last inspection for the school referred to the ‘excellent’ standard achieved by the pupils and this is no accident.”

The school’s Board of Governors and the school’s staff welcomed parents and their children to the Open Night at a time when the school is at an exciting crossroads.

Mr Maxwell spoke about the school’s ongoing campaign for a new build school and sixth form provision – a campaign which was launched after the Education Minister John O’Dowd announced in the Assembly last June that he had authorised the Education and Library Boards to start consultation on Post Primary Area Plans.

He said: “We are an 11-16 school, hopefully soon to be an 11-18 school, and you may be aware of our strong campaign for much-deserved Sixth Form, post-16 status at a new-build campus here on the Mowhan Road.

He added that a high standard of education, pastoral care, safety and success is what makes Markethill High School the successful school that it is. He spoke about the value of the school and its impact on the community. He highlighted the want and the need for sixth form provision and highlighted how Markethill High School ticks every box on the Minister’s sustainability criteria.

He said: “We wish to be open and transparent to aid you in the decision-making process and we are also sharing with you our three-year school development plan which outlines the many exciting and ambitious developments we hope to introduce by 2015.

Our vision is to ensure that all our children leave here with the knowledge, understanding and skills they might need in order to meet the challenges of life and work in the 21st Century.

“All pupils follow the same curriculum across Years 8-10, with some pupils taking up Spanish as a new language in Year 9 in addition to French which all pupils learn. In years 11 and 12 all pupils follow GCSE courses, with some pupils having the opportunity to partake of vocational courses, including Occupational Studies one day per week on a Friday at the Southern Regional College, where they have ease of access to state-of-the-art, multi-million pound resources. Our curriculum is balanced, our curriculum is broad, meaning that all our children have the potential to leave with the necessary qualifications in order to further their studies or chosen career.

“In September, we will introduce two new GCSE subjects, GCSE Agriculture and Land Use, and GCSE Moving Image Arts, bringing our in-house GCSE offer to an impressive 26 subjects – one of the largest and broadest of any school in the Armagh or Newry areas.”

Mr Maxwell said the vision for this year and for subsequent years for Markethill High School is ambitious yet very achievable. He said the school is one which continues to impress inspectors and its students and teachers continue to bring home awards.

He spoke about the ongoing £380,000 refurbishment for the Art and Music departments, how links between parents and teachers will get a boost with the formation of a Parent Teacher Association how the school’s approach to careers education will be re-defined.

Mr Maxwell said part of the school’s vision also is to develop an e-portfolio which will help teachers assess children’s skills.  The school will be working very closely with its feeder primary schools in order to ensure the transition between P7 and Year 8 is smooth. A pastoral period is going to be brought into the school’s timetable to ensure all children have access to information, advice and guidance at all times. The vision includes a pledge of three hours per week dedicated to English and Maths for 11-14 year olds as well as revision sessions for GCSE pupils.

“We are a cornerstone school, committed to serving the community. Last year we were delighted to open Markethill Recreation Centre here at the school, with evening access to our large Sports Hall and new, state-of-the-art fitness suite with over £40,000 of equipment. Our pupils have full access to all this equipment during the school day.

“We are a school which is committed to its community. We are fortunate to have dedicated staff who offer our pupils a wide choice of extra-curricular opportunities ranging from chess club to hockey to basketball to young enterprise to the equestrian team and Duke of Edinburgh.”

Mr Maxwell reassured parents that the school guarantees a commitment to constantly monitor children against their predicted potential.

He said: “At Key Stage 3 we will expect that your child will develop by at least one level further from their Key Stage 2 Levels, and as a school we set in place minimum targets in this regard against which your child will be carefully measured as he or she progresses.

“Despite cuts to education budgets across Northern Ireland, I’m pleased to report that this school is in good financial shape. There will be no increased class sizes, and no direct impact to learning and teaching as a result of central government cuts. We will continue to develop new approaches to communication with pupils and parents, most recently through the launch of a text messaging service.”

 

ENDS:

For further information contact Eleanor McGillie of MGMPR Ltd on 028 3756 9569 | 07709805379 | PR Public Relations Northern Ireland | Public Relations UK | Brand Journalism Experts | Brand Journalism UK | Brand Journalism Northern Ireland | Education PR

Notes To Editor:

  • January 2012 – Markethill High School – winners of a £4,000 prize fund for the best Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics project application to develop those subjects with Year 9 pupils.
  • In May 2012 Markethill High School was announced the British Academy Award Winner for the Best School in Northern Ireland for Modern Languages, with an award of £4,000. The school is shortlisted to the final three schools for the title of Best School in the United Kingdom for the delivery of Modern Language education.
  • In May 2012 – Laura Marshall in Year 11 was awarded the outstanding title of Northern Ireland’s Young Entrepreneur of the Future
  • For the second year running, in June 2012, Jonathan Armstrong in Year 12 was named the Southern Regional College student of the Year as a result of his work on the Schools’ Partnership Programme studying Occupational Studies
  • In November 2012, Markethill High School win Euroscola Programme
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