September 30 In the Press

Markethill High School praised by Education Minister as school of ‘very good practice’

By Eleanor McGillie

MARKETHILL High School has been congratulated by Education Minister John O’Dowd as being one of 11 schools in Northern Ireland which has successfully broken the link between social disadvantage and educational attainment.

The schools, highlighted as examples of good practice in an Education and Training Inspectorate (ETI) report published on Thursday, have relatively high levels of free school meal entitlement yet have achieved good results in English and mathematics at GCSE level.

At the launch of the report at St Joseph’s Boys’ High School in Newry, Mr O’Dowd said Markethill High School is one of 11 schools which raises pupils’ aspirations, delivers good results in key subjects and helps children fulfil their potential.

The Minister said: “My main priorities as Education Minister are to raise educational standards and close the attainment gap between those most and those least disadvantaged. We are continuing to make great strides in raising standards and attainment levels are continuing to rise.

“Last year 62 per cent of young people left school having achieved at least five GCSEs or equivalents at grades A* to C including English and maths. This was up from 54.2 per cent in 2007 – the last year of Direct Rule.

“There is much more work to do, particularly to break the link between disadvantage and educational attainment. A child’s social background should not pre-determine their life chances.

“This report highlights that many schools across the north are successfully breaking the link. The 11 schools surveyed have been raising their pupils’ aspirations, delivering good results in the key subject areas of English and mathematics and are helping individual children fulfil their potential.”

James Maxwell, Principal of Markethill High School, said this recognition by the Education Minister is truly reflective of the  hard work carried out by staff and pupils at the school.

He said: “Markethill High School is a school which lives by its ethos ‘Believe To Achieve’. We are a rural school based in the heart of the community of Markethill. We are a school which cares about all of our pupils, our staff, our performance and we ensure everyone has access to the best facilities which gives our pupils the tools to reach their full potential. We are delighted to feature in the ETI Report as a school of good practice. This is another welcome boost for Markethill High School and we thank the Minister for his comments.”

The report, which contains examples of good practice in the delivery of English and mathematics, will be issued to all post-primary schools locally. The best practice identified will also be used by ETI to support other schools with high free school meal entitlement levels to raise standards.

The launch event provided the opportunity for the 11 schools to meet and discuss how to consolidate and build upon the improvements not only in their own schools, but also in other schools locally.

The Minister continued: “These 11 schools are to be congratulated on the excellent work they have been doing to deliver educational improvements and their experiences can inform and assist other schools deliver similar improvements. The ETI will be using the report as a basis on which to support other schools in the drive to boost educational outcomes and I welcome the commitment of the 11 schools here today to play their part in this work.”

The 11 schools which are examined in the report are:

  • Ballycastle High School
  • De La Salle High School,      Downpatrick
  • Holy Trinity College,      Cookstown
  • Markethill High School
  • New-Bridge Integrated      College, Loughbrickland
  • Newtownhamilton High School
  • Sperrin Integrated College,      Magherafelt
  • St Cecilia’s College, Derry
  • St Joseph’s Boys’ High      School, Newry
  • St Mary’s College, Clady,      Portglenone
  • St Mary’s College,      Irvinestown



Group – Ian Williamson (Ballycastle HS),  Hugh Mallon (St Joseph’s Boy’s HS Newry),  Patricia Cooney (St Mary’s College Irvinestown),  Education Minister John O’Dowd, Noelle Buick (Chief Inspector of the Education and Training Inspectorate),  Anne Anderson (Newbridge Integrated College Loughbrickland), Basil Donnnelly (St Mary’s College Clady),  Martine Mulhern (Saint Cecelia’s College Derry), Barry Sharvin (De la Salle HS Downpatrick), James Maxwell (Markethill HS), Garnet Mullan (Newtownhamilton HS) and Maria Hunter (Sperrin Integrated College Magherafelt)

Small shot – pupils  Declan McMann, and Alan White ( right), Hugh Mallon Principal of St Joseph’s Boys high School, Newry and Noelle Buick (Chief Inspector)



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’.

  • 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
  • For further information contact Eleanor McGillie of MGMPR Ltd (McGillie Media & PR Ltd) on 028 3756 9569 | 07709805379 Agriculture PR Northern Ireland | Education PR | Public Relations Northern Ireland | Public Relations UK | Brand Journalism Northern Ireland | Brand Journalism UK | Brand Journalism Experts

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