June 4 In the Press

Educational Village a good solution for Armagh city based schools, says Governor’s chairman

By Eleanor McGillie

THE Chairman of the Board of Governors of Markethill High School, Mr Willie Johnston, says he, the Governors, the Principal, the staff, the pupils, the parents and the community of Markethill and surrounding areas, welcome the leadership being shown among school leaders in Armagh City to deliver a solution to their issue surrounding post primary education.

The Royal School Armagh, St Patrick’s Grammar, City of Armagh School and St Brigid’s High School are working together to come up with a solution which would serve the needs of each of their pupils.

Mr Johnston said the Governors of Markethill High are aware that discussions have been taking place in Armagh City between a number of schools regarding future educational provision there. He said it is the perception of Markethill High School that the consensus may be now heading towards an Armagh City solution and a Markethill solution.  The Governors, staff and community in the Markethill area continue to push for a new build on the Mowhan Road as outlined in two of the area-based proposals unveiled by the Southern Education and Library Board (Options 1 and 2), justified by the clear criteria of the sustainability agenda.

Mr Johnston said the Markethill and South Armagh community continue also to strive for a Sixth Form for the school based on the growing intake, the sound finances and the fact that it is one of the top five non-selective Controlled schools in Northern Ireland.

Mr Johnston said: “In Markethill we understand how vital it is for schools to meet the needs of its community. Keady is another example. These are both successful and sustainable rural communities which are constantly thriving in their own right and continually meet the needs of their respective citizens.  I understand the push in Armagh City by school leaders to provide a similar high standard of service for its own community. However, despite perceptions to the contrary, it must be stated that this Armagh City educational village does not reflect Option 3 of the SELB’s area-based proposals.”

Principal James Maxwell said exciting times lie ahead for the future of education in Markethill.

“The school here will continue, in the future, to build strong links with whatever provision emerges in the City, and next year we will trial a distance learning GCSE in Journalism via video-conferencing with other schools in the locality. Next year Markethill High hopes to offer evening recreational courses for adults in a range of areas, including literacy and numeracy. It is also very possible that Markethill will play an integral part here on the Mowhan Road in the development of vocational courses for local schools at 14-16 level following ceasing of some centralised funding for this.

“The SELB recognises Markethill High as a successful, growing and creative rural school with an increasingly healthy financial situation which will keep the school in surplus for years to come”.

“We look forward to the future development of the Markethill High Mowhan Road site with optimism and wish the City schools every success in their own ‘educational village’. At Markethill High we will continue to meet the needs of our pupils, most recently through the announcement of the introduction of GCSE Agriculture and Land Use, as well as a new ICT-based GCSE in Moving Image Arts following the £300,000 refurbishment of our Music and Art Departments. “

“ The Markethill and South Armagh community is ready for the expansion of Markethill High School on its current site to cater for its own educational network, notably the pupils from its 12 feeder primary schools. He said the school, which is 15 minutes from Portadown, 15 minutes from Armagh, 20 minutes from Newry, 30 minutes from Keady and 20 minutes from Newtownhamilton, is right in the centre of an educational network. It is sustainable, it is over-subscribed and it is ready to grow in line with Minister O’Dowd’ s statement from September 2011 committing to growth for popular, successful schools.”

Brian Doran, chief executive of the Southern Regional College, said: “Southern Regional College is currently discussing extending its community outreach provision, in conjunction with Markethill High School.  No definitive plans have been agreed at this stage but is hoped that a programme of activities will be agreed and promoted in the Markethill area in advance of the start of the new academic year.  The Southern Regional Colleges’ community outreach programme provides opportunities for adult learners to engage in a range of introductory educational programmes within their locality.  The College currently uses over 120 outreach centres across the Southern region to encourage people to re-engage in education and training opportunities at an introductory level.  It is hoped that by taking these first steps individuals will gain the confidence and desire to avail of the wide range of education and training opportunities through to degree level provided on the College’s main campuses.

Also supporting the recent moves for the development of education in Markethill is Ian Marshall, Deputy President of the UFU, who said: “Education is key and Markethill High School is perfectly positioned to provide leadership in Northern Ireland for the promotion and development of new subjects such as the GCSE in Agriculture. “

ENDS:

 

NOTES TO EDITOR:

  • Markethill High School is a co-educational 11-16 Comprehensive School situated on a spacious site adjacent to the town. Since 1959 the school has been educating pupils of all abilities drawn from a wide geographical area. The school’s ethos is ‘Believe To Achieve’.
  • For further information contact Eleanor McGillie of MGMPR Ltd (McGillie Media & PR Ltd) on 028 3756 9569 | 07709805379 Agriculture | Education Armagh PR Public Relations Northern Ireland | Public Relations UK | Brand Journalism Experts | Brand Journalism Northern Ireland | Brand Journalism UK
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