December 9 In the Press

Markethill High School

Principal expresses confidence in imminent SELB decisions over post-16 education

By Eleanor McGillie

The Principal and Chairman of Governors of Markethill High School have expressed full confidence that the SELB will make the right decisions about the development of post-16 education for the non-selective Controlled Sector in the Markethill area.

Mr Willie Johnston, Chairman of Governors, also put across the school’s gratitude to the SELB for agreeing the installation of a new 2G synthetic hockey pitch at the school costing £500,000.

James Maxwell, Principal, addressed a packed assembly hall at the recent prizegiving night where he related to parents, pupils and staff the record exam results at the school, including the fact that the school now sits in the top 10 per cent of all non-selective schools in Northern Ireland for pupils leaving with 5 or more GCSEs including English and Maths. Mr Maxwell also commended the significant increase in A*, A and B grades. Additionally, in 2014-2015 the school has a record number of pupils.

Mr Maxwell added that the eight objectives outlined in the school’s Vision 2014 strategy will be met early in 2015 including literacy, ICT development, STEM development, evolution of careers, information, advice and guidance, pastoral initiatives, the creation of new steering groups, curriculum development and the growth of the school.

Alluding to the much-needed growth of the school, Mr Maxwell pointed out that only one pupil out of every 33 in the Armagh ward who comes from non-selective Controlled schools transfers to a non-selective Controlled school at post-16 level.

Mr Maxwell said this statistic is the worst out of all council areas in Northern Ireland and has called for the development of post-16 education in the non-selective Controlled sector in Markethill.

He said: “In Banbridge, it is one pupil in every seven, in Cookstown and Newry, it’s one in every four pupils. In Lisburn, one in every six pupils. In Larne, one in every 10 pupils. In Newtownabbey one in every five pupils. In Omagh, one in every three pupils. In Belfast, one in every four pupils but in Armagh City and District, only one in every 33 pupils.

Markethill High School has been campaigning for three years to get Sixth Form provision, as demand from students wishing to continue their education remains high with 97 per cent opting to stay in Markethill if they had the choice.

Mr Maxwell added: “The changes to education systems in the Maintained and Voluntary Catholic sectors in this area are putting into an even starker light the inadequacies and insufficiencies of the non-selective Controlled provision at Sixth Form level.

“There is a belief, shared amongst many stakeholders, that this issue is now urgent. It is pressing. There must be a resolution to the Sixth Form issue .The plausible solution is the development of a robust Sixth Form here in Markethill. This will also allow for the development of effective education structures from the age of 3 through to 18 here on the Mowhan Road where currently 820 pupils are educated every day. This is a school with strong exam results, some of the strongest in the province, an increasing surplus due to well-managed finances over many years, and an increasing admissions. Markethill High School has confidence that the SELB will do the right thing in relation to the great need for growth here. ”

During his speech, Mr Johnston, Chair of Governors, praised the staff and pupils, past and present, for making such positive contributions to the school, he said the focus on literacy continues to be high on the agenda and he reiterated that the school will continue to adopt its child-centred approach so all children achieve high. In 2014, the GCSE pass rate for English Language at A*-C increased by an astonishing 30%, now sitting at 20% above the Northern Ireland average for non-selective schools.




  • 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 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 |

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