New build school in sight as Markethill campaign continues for its pupils
By Eleanor McGillie
THE Education Authority has confirmed that Markethill High School still remains a priority for a new build school.
The news was confirmed also by the school’s principal James Maxwell. In a statement this week, an Education Authority spokesman confirmed the official position.
The statement said: “Markethill High School is included on the list of capital building priorities submitted to the Department of Education by the Education Authority. This remains subject to the resolution of area planning issues and the availability of capital funding.”
The official position was also reiterated in October to MLA Sandra Overend when she had written to the Education Authority about the issue.
In a response to her letter, Gregory Butler, the Regional Managing Director of the Southern Eastern and Southern Regions, confirmed to Ms Overend that Markethill High School is included on the list of capital building priorities submitted to the Department of Education by the Education Authority.
Mr Maxwell, the Board of Governors, staff, pupils and the wider community, have welcomed the news but said the new build must come soon and said the school will not accept its pupils being at a disadvantage pastorally or educationally.
Mr Maxwell said: “With excellent academic achievements, our highest enrolment figure ever, being in a strong financial position and capable of meeting the Bain threshold of 100 pupils for Sixth Form, the school remains strong and resolute in its campaign to secure a new build and Sixth Form.
“Our pupils deserve a new build. We have 496 pupils. St Joseph’s Crossmaglen, which is getting a new build, has 481 pupils at ages 11-16 as of the June 2015 census, so it has less pupils at 11-16 than Markethill High School. We congratulate them in their new build but question why the Education Minister consistently says no to Markethill High School in spite of requests for temporary variance.
“We are of course pleased to learn that Markethill High School is now on the priority list for a new build school – but that new build must come soon. We understand this remains subject to the resolution of area planning issues and the availability of capital funding as outlined by Mr Butler.
“In September 2012, 4,500 people put their name to a campaign calling for a new build and Sixth Form at Markethill High.We have been actively campaigning for the last three years yet we are still waiting on decisions. Our school ticks all the boxes. We are sustainable, we achieve some of the strongest exam results in the country and we are in a sound financial position. Would we meet the Bain threshold of 100 pupils in Sixth Form? Absolutely.”
The number of pupils leaving Markethill High School with five or more GCSEs, including English and Maths, has hit a new record at 68 per cent –a result which should place Markethill High School once again in the top three non-selective Controlled Schools in Northern Ireland. Well over 80 per cent of pupils achieve five or more GCSEs.
Mr Maxwell asked: “Why do our pupils have to get 13 or 14 points to get any sort of robust and broad A-Level provision when pupils in other Controlled non-selective schools have easy access to strong provision at the same location with only eight points?
“The inconsistencies and disadvantage cannot go on and the Education Authority cannot shift the goalposts. Markethill High School meets the sustainability agenda and meets the Bain threshold for sixth form admissions.”
Mr Maxwell said he understands there are moves to consult on post-16 provision in the Armagh City and District Area.
He said: “Markethill High School, quite simply, as the largest Controlled feeder school, must be at the centre of those discussions. Nothing else will be acceptable. And to the Education Authority I say this – Controlled post-16 provision, for the Controlled sector which has been so sadly lacking for decades now, must remain within the Controlled Sector.”
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’.
- Markethill High School is the Best School in Northern Ireland for Modern Languages
- 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 or interview requests contact Eleanor McGillie of MGMPR Ltd on 028 3756 9569 | 07709805379|Brand Journalism Experts | Brand Journalism UK | Brand Journalism Northern Ireland | PR Northern Ireland | Public Relations Northern Ireland