Pupils lend their voices to support community strong campaign for new build
By Eleanor McGillie
THE Head Girl at Markethill High School has joined fellow pupils in voicing their strong support for the school’s campaign for a new build school and sixth form provision.
Laura Marshall, who has to leave Markethill High School this year to continue her education elsewhere, says the students fully support the current campaign to have a new build school on the Mowhan Road site and a sixth form.
Markethill High School is a controlled, all-ability, co-educational school which caters for 11-16 year olds. However the community, the Governors, the staff and the pupils believe it should offer a sixth form provision.
Last year an economic appraisal was carried out after Education Minister John O’Dowd after announced in the Assembly that he had authorised the Education and Library Boards to start the consultation on Post Primary Area Plans.
As a result of the strength of feeling in the community of Markethill and the surrounding areas a campaign was launched to highlight the need for a new build school and sixth form status.
Laura, who will have to travel elsewhere to continue her education in September, said the experience which she has gained at Markethill High School will make it difficult for her to say goodbye.
She said: “My time at Markethill High School has been brilliant. It is safe to say I have enjoyed coming to school every day. Numerous unforgettable memories have been made during my time here, from meeting new friends to taking part in our school productions.”
Laura, who was awarded the outstanding title of Northern Ireland’s Young Entrepreneur of the Future, added; “Saying goodbye to Markethill High School at the end of this year will be very hard. It has opened so many doors for me, both socially and academically. Everyone has been so welcoming, supportive and approachable. I have undoubtedly lived by the school’s motto ‘Believe To Achieve’ and I believe the school can achieve a sixth form provision for future pupils.”
Head Boy Ryan Higgins echoed Laura’s sentiments, saying the school offers a top quality education for all of the pupils. Ryan will also heave to leave Markethill to continue his education.
He said: “I will look back on my time at Markethill High School with great pride. Pride that I went to and played a key role in such a great school. It is a school that has top quality teachers and students, a school which brings out the best in its students and which has achieved on so many different levels. The school is the heartbeat of the community in Markethill and pupils would love to stay on to continue their studies here.”
Markethill High School has been educating pupils from all abilities from a wide geographic area since 1959. It attracts pupils from Markethill, Armagh, Keady, Richhill, Portadown, Newry, Lurgan and the surrounding areas.
James Boyd, a Year 12 pupil, said his time at the school has served him very well and says he will be sad leaving this year.
He said: “I have thoroughly enjoyed my time here at Markethill High School. There is a wide array of fine teachers who are always ready to help you. I have made many friends with whom I will stay in contact forever. I would love to see the school getting a new building and sixth form provision.”
Another Year 12 pupil said all pupils grow together at the school and they do ‘Believe to Achieve’.
She said: “During my time at Markethill High School I had countless, unforgettable and worthwhile experiences that have been unparalleled. Looking back at my time here, I realise how much the school has developed and how much potential it still has to develop.
“I have grown as an individual at this school and this is as a result of the impeccable support received from teachers and pupils. I am a firm believer now that I can achieve anything I put my mind to.
Principal James Maxwell echoed the pupils’ thoughts.
He said: “It’s time for Markethill High School. Time for a much-deserved new build school and Sixth Form status. There are presently seven Controlled non-selective schools in the SELB which offer Sixth Form, four of which are smaller than Markethill High School currently in the 11-16 range. Where is the equality?
“Well over 80 per cent of our parents have indicated that they want a Sixth Form here. More than two thirds of our pupils would want to stay here. And should there be Sixth Form, there would be mobility here at post-16 level…mobility from a wide catchment area including towns and villages. Nobody will tell us that we won’t get 100 pupils. Fifty in Lower Sixth and a further fifty in Upper Sixth would make us viable, and that is eminently achievable and more.
” It’s time for the Education Minister, Mr O’ Dowd, to commit to his pledge to allow popular, oversubscribed schools to grow. We are a confident school, we are an ambitious school at the heart of a thriving and growing rural community. It is evident that Markethill High School meets the six sustainability criteria and indicators set out by the former Education Minister in the document ‘Schools for the Future: A Policy for Sustainable Schools’. Page 4 of this document refers to the need to …’ensure that the excellent quality of education available to some young people is made available to all, in both urban and rural settings, in accessible, modern, fit-for-purpose accommodation’. Markethill High School is the clear epitome of a sustainable school, and has been the cornerstone of rural education in the locality for 53 years. It’s time for Markethill High.”
The sentiments of the students is echoed by the wider community. A petition was started in Markethill to show support for the school’s campaign. The Governors of the school collected petitions from businesses, community groups, congregations, traders and individuals in the surrounding areas. The 4,485 signatures collected were then handed to the Southern Education and Library Board. The UFU and their 1,700 members in the area also support the school’s drive to have a sixth form at the school.
For further information contact Eleanor McGillie of MGMPR Ltd on 028 3756 9569 | 07709805379 PR Public Relations Northern Ireland | Public Relations UK | Brand Journalism Experts | Brand Journalism Northern Ireland | Brand Journalism UK | Education PR |
NOTES TO EDITOR:
The four short listed options for Markethill High School are;
- 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 1,400 pupils.
- January 2012 – Markethill High School – winners of a £4,000 prize fund for the best Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics project application to develop those subjects with Year 9 pupils.
- In May 2012 Markethill High School was announced the British Academy Award Winner for the Best School in Northern Ireland for Modern Languages, with an award of £4,000. The school is shortlisted to the final three schools for the title of Best School in the United Kingdom for the delivery of Modern Language education.
- In May 2012 – Laura Marshall in Year 11 was awarded the outstanding title of Northern Ireland’s Young Entrepreneur of the Future
- For the second year running, in June 2012, Jonathan Armstrong in Year 12 was named the Southern Regional College student of the Year as a result of his work on the Schools’ Partnership Programme studying Occupational Studies
- In November 2012, Markethill High School win Euroscola Programme