December 6 In the Press

Markethill High School

Markethill High School governors says enough is enough and urges SELB to make decisions


By Eleanor McGillie

THE Governors of Markethill High School have submitted a formal Development Proposal to the SELB calling for the growth of the school and are urging for the right decisions on the school’s future to be made sooner rather than later.

Willie Johnston, Chairman of the Board of Governors, said two years have passed since the Education Minister first announced his vision for education in which he stated that popular and oversubscribed schools should be allowed to grow.

Speaking at the school’s Key Stage 4 Prize Giving, during which former Year 12 pupils were congratulated on their GCSE results, Mr Johnston said there is a contradiction in what the Minister outlined in his vision and what is actually happening.

Mr Johnston said: “Markethill High School is popular, it enjoys the confidence of its stakeholders, it is oversubscribed by 23 pupils, it is successful in exam results, its ethos and its vision.

“Despite the Minister’s positive and warm words towards popular, oversubscribed schools, this school was turned down for a temporary variation by the Department of Education last year to allow us to take all children who applied. Why is this school being held back? There is a clear contradiction between those positive words of growth from the Department of Education and what is actually reality.”

Last month, Harper University in Ireland announced a collaboration with Markethill High School which promotes the school to lead by example to encourage students across Northern Ireland to take up careers in agriculture following the launch of the school’s GCSE in Agriculture and Land Use.

In October, the Education and Training Inspectorate published its findings which concluded that the school is one of ‘very good practice’ in all areas. Furthermore, Principal James Maxwell launched the school’s ambitious visions for literacy, ICT, the Entitlement Framework, STEM and community development.

In September, Minister John O’Dowd commended the school for being one of 11 schools in Northern Ireland which had broken the link between social disadvantage and educational attainment.

The school has already met the Entitlement Framework targets for 2015, it now boasts an expanding curriculum of 27 GCSEs in-house, one of the biggest offerings in County Armagh and it is the British Academy winner for the Best School in Northern Ireland for Modern Languages.

Furthermore, in 2012 it was the top-performing non selective controlled school in the province for the percentage of pupils attaining five or more GCSE passes.

But, in spite of continued success, Mr Johnston said the school is being prevented from growing.  He said the school’s immediate priority is for an urgent increase in its admissions cap to cater for the school’s continued oversubscribed status and reiterated that the school, and the community, are continuing its campaign for a new build school and sixth form.

Mr Johnston said: “Enough is enough. We have put forward a formal Development Proposal to the SELB to have an immediate increase in our admissions numbers from 93 to 105 which will cater for the predicted demographic growth in the next few years. The admissions cap of 93 is a complete disservice to the community we serve and completely unfair when compared against other schools in the SELB area.”

The continued call for a new build and sixth form was also supported by Armagh City and District Lord Mayor Robert Turner.

Speaking at the Prize Giving, he said: “The performance of this school is the envy of many post primary schools and a gem in my electoral area. I wish to put my own personal backing behind the school’s drive for its new build school and sixth form status. The school is a cornerstone school within the local community.”




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’.

  • 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 (McGillie Media & PR) Ltd on 028 3756 9569 | 07709805379| Education PR | Public Relations Northern Ireland | Public Relations UK | Brand Journalism Northern Ireland | Brand Journalism UK | Brand Journalism Experts

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