June 20 In the Press

School looks to the future with confidence ahead of post primary education decision

By Eleanor McGillie

THE Chairman of Governors of Markethill High School, Mr Willie Johnston, said Markethill High School and the community is looking forward to a decision being reached in relation to the future of post primary education in the SELB area.

Talks are continuing in Armagh city among school leaders of the Royal School Armagh, City of Armagh School, St Brigid’s High School and St Patrick’s Grammar. All four schools are proposing to be sited on an ‘educational village’ on land which runs from the Royal School Armagh to land behind the old St Luke’s site.

Mr Johnston said exciting times lie ahead for the future of education and said the entire community of Markethill is continuing to support its campaign for a new build school on its Mowhan Road site and a sixth form provision and said he welcomes school leaders in Armagh working together for a solution to post primary education for pupils of the Royal School Armagh, City of Armagh School, St Patrick’s Grammar and St Brigid’s High School.

Mr Johnston said that although it’s unlikely any decisions will be made before the summer holidays, the staff, pupils, parents of current pupils and the parents and pupils from its 12 feeder primary schools, are looking forward to the future of education in Markethill with confidence.

He said: “Markethill High School, which has provided a strong education for people in the immediate and surrounding areas since 1959, has a growing intake of pupils, is in a financially sound position and is one of the top five non-selective schools in Northern Ireland.

“The community is consistently rallying around to support the campaign in spite of 5,000 people previously signing a petition for the development of the school through a new build and Sixth Form on the current site. The school continues to grow and has had to turn pupils away because demand is so high and its curriculum continues to broaden with the much anticipated GCSE in Agriculture and Land Use starting in September.

“The push for a new build on the Mowhan Road is outlined in two of the area-based proposals unveiled by the Southern Education and Library Board (Options 1 and 2) which is justified by the clear criteria on the sustainability agenda set out by the Education Minister John O’Dowd.

“The Governors of Markethill High School have been aware that discussions have been taking place in Armagh City between a number of schools regarding future educational provision there. Markethill High School believes the consensus may be now heading towards a solution which will cater for the needs of pupils of St Patrick’s Grammar, Royal School Armagh, City of Armagh School and St Brigid’s High School.”

Mr Johnston added: “I understand the push in Armagh 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 the Armagh City ‘educational village’ does not reflect Option 3 of the SELB’s area-based proposals.

“Markethill High School will continue to operate in Markethill as a thriving and progressive school to meet the needs of the growing rural community.”

CAMPAIGN TIMELINE:

JUNE 2012: the Education Minister John O’Dowd announced in the Assembly that he had authorised the Education and Library Boards to start the consultation on Post Primary Area Plans

AUGUST 2012: Markethill High School and surrounding community launch a campaign for a new build school and sixth form provision.

SEPTEMBER 2012: Over 500 attend public meeting at Markethill High School to show support for new build and sixth form.

SEPTEMBER 2012: Ulster Farmer’s Union, MLA Danny Kennedy, Mervyn Storey MLA and DUP Spokesperson for Education and Chairman of the Assembly Education Committee, outgoing Lord Mayor Sharon Haughey and councillors voice their support for Markethill High School’s campaign.

OCTOBER 2012: The SELB receive a petition which is signed by 5,000 people who support the campaign.

OCTOBER 2012: The Northern Ireland Assembly’s committee for education calls for John O’Dowd to extend the consultation time on proposed departmental plans for the sustainability and viability of post-primary schools.

NOVEMBER 2012: Markethill High School students celebrate prestigious wins through trips to London and Strasbourg for their achievements in modern languages.

DECEMBER 2012: The Principal of Markethill High School calls for equality of judgement in the decision making process by the SELB

JANUARY 2013: Students speak out in support of Sixth Form

FEBRUARY 2013: SELB publish findings on post primary consultation

FEBRUARY 2013: Chairman of Governors reveals Markethill High School contributes approximately £2million to town’s economy

APRIL 2013: Education league tables compiled by the Belfast Telegraph rank Markethill High School in the top five best performing  non-selective controlled schools in Northern Ireland.

MAY 2013: Markethill High School announced GCSE in Agriculture and Land Use ahead of Balmoral Show

MAY 2013: Markethill High School praise Armagh based schools’ leadership in finding a solution to meet the needs of their students – St Patrick’s Grammar, Royal School Armagh, City of Armagh School and St Brigid’s High school

JUNE 2013: Markethill High School continues to campaign for new build school and sixth form provision in Markethill

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 PR Public Relations Northern Ireland | Public Relations UK | Brand Journalism Experts | Brand Journalism Northern Ireland | Brand Journalism UK
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