Pupil numbers increase to 515 as community renews calls for new build and sixth form
By Eleanor McGillie
THE Markethill community says the school’s campaign for a new build school and a sixth form must become an urgent priority for the Department of Education.
The school’s Principal has confirmed today that 515 pupils will be enrolled this year.
The school now becomes the biggest non-selective Controlled school for pupils aged 11-16 in the Armagh, Banbridge and Newry City areas.
Principal James Maxwell, along with the Board of Governors, the local business community, staff, parents and pupils, has been leading a campaign since September 2012 for a new build school and sixth form provision.
The school was oversubscribed for Year 8 places this September by a record 31 places. However in May it was granted a much-needed temporary variation for an additional 16 pupils, as many of the children seeking access lived closer to Markethill High than other suitable schools.
Earlier this year, Mr Maxwell took First Minister Arlene Foster on a tour of the school with the message that it was ‘wholly unacceptable’ that a third of the school is taught in fabricated mobile huts. He told the First Minister it was unacceptable that the school, which is currently the second top non-selective Controlled school in the province, did not have Sixth Form status.
Principal James Maxwell said the tide is now turning, and that a new build school and Sixth Form must now be an imminent prospect.
Speaking today, Mr Maxwell said: “In June 2014 we were apparently turned down for a new build school by then Minister John O’Dowd because we did not have 500 pupils. That is no longer the case. Furthermore, the astonishing results our pupils and teachers have delivered this year at GCSE, with 90 per cent of pupils attaining five or more passes at A*-C, should place this school again as a top, leading non-selective Controlled School. It is now completely unacceptable that a school with one of the best pass rates has to let go of 100 or more pupils at age 16, putting at risk their academic and pastoral wellbeing. We must, quite simply, get Sixth Form status in the near future.
“It’s time now for change. We do not want any more inequality. We do not want our children to lack the facilities they deserve. We do not want our community to be hindered because of a lack of decision making. We do not want any more excuses.
“This school was built in 1959 to accommodate 200 pupils. The 2016-2017 intake stands at 515. Markethill High School http://markethillhighschool.net has always remained on the Education Authority’s list as a priority for a new build school, and it is now time for those in charge to deliver.”
Mr Maxwell said the community in Markethill continues to grow. He said more businesses are opening up and more housing developments are being built which means more and more families are moving to the area. By 2025, demographic estimates indicate that Markethill High will have to cater for at least 600 pupils.
He said: “We fully anticipate that the Minister of Education, Mr Peter Weir, will allocate capital funding for a new build school in Markethill. Our pupils deserve it. Our teachers deserve it and our community deserves it. We are challenging the Minister of Education https://www.education-ni.gov.uk/ to grant this community what it deserves.”
NOTES TO EDITOR:
- Markethill High School is the Best School in Northern Ireland for Modern Languages http://markethillhighschool.net
- In September 2013, The Minister for Education John O’Dowd congratulates Markethill High School for being one of 11 schools in Northern Ireland which successfully bridges the gap between social disadvantage and educational attainment
- In October 2013 the ETI report that Markethill High School is a school of ‘very good practice’ and commends all aspects of school life
- In November 2013 Harper Adams University in Ireland announces a collaboration with Markethill High School to lead the way in education in Northern Ireland by encouraging pupils to take up careers in agriculture
- For further information contact Eleanor McGillie of MGMPR Ltd on 028 3756 9569 | 07709805379| Education PR | Brand Journalism Experts | Brand Journalism UK | Brand Journalism Northern Ireland | PR Agency Northern Ireland | http://www.mgmpr.co.uk