September 10 In the Press

Principal to tell audience that education is the cornerstone of the community

By Eleanor McGillie

THE Principal of Markethill High School, James Maxwell, will tell a packed Assembly Hall tonight (Monday, September 10) how his school and the wider community will campaign to develop post-primary education as the heartbeat of Markethill and the surrounding community.

Mr Maxwell, who has been Principal for ten months at the school, said the community of Markethill is ready, capable and confident to build on the success of the school by developing it further through a new build in the town with Sixth Form status.

In June, the Education Minister announced in the Assembly that he had authorised the Education and Library Boards to start the consultation on Post Primary Area Plans and said that the extended consultation period would run for a full 16 weeks until 26 October 2012 – a consultation process which is open to the wider community as well as to schools.

The Minister indicated that by extending the consultation period to 16 weeks, he is ensuring that schools and the general public will have sufficient time to read and reflect on the proposals before responding.

Four short listed options were put forward following an Economic Appraisal.

  • Amalgamate the City of Armagh and Markethill High Schools. Provide new replacement buildings on the Markethill High School site for an estimated 700 pupils. Refurbish and extend the Royal School buildings for an LTE of 700 pupils.
  • Amalgamate the City of Armagh High School and the Royal School. Refurbish and extend the existing Royal School buildings for an LTE of 850 pupils. Provide new replacement buildings on the Markethill High School site for an LTE of 550 pupils.
  • Amalgamate the City of Armagh and Markethill High Schools. Provide new replacement buildings, co-located with the Royal School, for an LTE of 700 pupils. Refurbish and extend the existing Royal School buildings for an LTE of 700 pupils.
  • Amalgamate all three schools and provide a new 11-19 all ability school on the Royal School site for an LTE of 1400 pupils.

Speaking ahead of tonight’s meeting, Mr Maxwell said: “Markethill High School is bucking the trend. It is attracting an ever-increasing number of students, it is in a sound financial position, its leadership is strong and it is easily accessible for all students living in Markethill, Newry, Armagh and all of the surrounding areas. As such, it clearly meets the six criteria for sustainable schools as outlined in the former Minister of Education’s Policy for Sustainable Schools.

“Parents actively choose to send their children here because of the ethos, the rural feel, the family-oriented nature of the school, because of the strong and unbreakable community links, as well as the excellent exam results which now place us in the top 6% of all non-selective schools in Northern Ireland, and potentially as the top non-selective Controlled School in the Southern Education and Library Board. We are a rural school and we are proud of it. We serve our students well by offering the second broadest curriculum in the area – a curriculum which is tailored to the needs and interests of our pupils. Furthermore, from Tuesday 25th September the local community will have access to the school’s Recreation Centre in the evenings, offering classes such as zumba, combat, football, pilates, circuits and much more. Such a community approach to education is entirely in line with DENI strategies and also DCAL’s advocacy document for community use of schools, linking the school estate with the specialist capacity of local Council officers.”

“We wish the development of education in schools in Armagh City itself every success, but our priority is to continue to provide the excellent standard of education to our pupils here in Markethill and surrounding areas. We trust that the Minister of Education will commit to his pledge from September 2011 to allow popular, oversubscribed schools to grow, as is the case with Markethill High”

ENDS:

For further information contact Eleanor McGillie of McGillie Media & PR on 028 3756 9863 or 07709805379 | Public Relations Northern Ireland

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