Monday, 23 October 2017
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Christmas & New Year 2016

Selecting the school that you trust to educate your child is a big responsibility and one that can weigh heavily on the shoulders of any parent.

A school open day therefore presents a wonderful opportunity to take the first step towards starting the relationship that could shape their entire future...

As they say, knowledge is power, and nothing will give you greater confidence in your final choice than by visiting the classrooms your child will be learning in, and speaking to the teachers and pupils.

Bring your child along and ask them about their first impressions, they could notice things you miss and it will hopefully make their first-day-at-school experience a little less scary if they have visited previously. Find out what extracurricular activities are on offer to help develop your child’s interests as they grow – this can also be a good indicator that teachers are motivated and enthusiastic.

Try to get a feel for the overall atmosphere of the school and ask questions to discover if the pupils are happy and enjoying school life. Check out the notice boards to see what’s happening day-to-day, and if you can picture your child happily unpacking their schoolbag there, you’re probably on the right track. Just as every child is unique, each school will also have its own individual strengths. The key to unlocking the best possible outcomes for your child, is finding the right environment for them to succeed in.

In this special feature, we asked local schools to provide an insight into the opportunities that they could ‘open the door’ to for your son or daughter...


CHILD-CENTRED EDUCATION AT ASHFIELD BOYS’ HIGH SCHOOL
Open Day Tue 24 January 2017 at 7pm

Ashfield Boys’ High School is a school at the heart of its community with 96 per cent of our boys, living within a three-mile radius of the school. We have a well-deserved reputation for high standards and success, and not only are we continuing to ‘buck the trend’ and meet these high standards, but year on year we are surpassing them.

We passionately believe in ‘child-centred’ education – ensuring that every decision that we make is based upon what is best for our students. We are committed to making sure that all of our pupils receive equality of entitlement, equality of opportunity and equality in terms of state-of-the-art facilities and resources. We believe that it is our duty to help our boys, not just gain the relevant qualifications to progress to Higher/Further Education, but also develop the skills that are necessary for them to take their place in the world they live in and their chosen career.


A MYRIAD OF OPPORTUNITIES AT METHODY
Open Day Thu 5 & Fri 6 January 2017 6.30pm – 9pm

“I chose Methody because of the open ethos and diverse student population...At Methody we are continuously encouraged to try new things and broaden our horizons, and support is provided every step of the way…Methody has taught me confidence…The opportunities that I have had have been unforgettable.” (MCB pupils)

Pupils at Methodist College avail of an education that combines the acquisition of knowledge and skills with the development of character. They are provided with a myriad of opportunities to develop the higher order skills of creativity, critical thinking, communication, and collaboration.

We nurture and promote behaviours and values that equip them to contribute to a changing and challenging world – adaptability, persistence, resilience and integrity. Methody provide a values-based educational experience that helps our pupils to develop compassion, self-awareness and independence of thought and spirit, an experience that is exciting, exacting, enriching and ennobling.


PARKHALL INTEGRATED COLLEGE – AN INCLUSIVE LEARNING ENVIRONMENT
Open Day Thu 12 January 2017 6.45pm – 9pm

Parkhall Integrated College is an 11-16 co-educational establishment situated in Antrim with an enrolment of around 700 pupils. The college currently operates on a split site arrangement with construction work well under way for a new £16 million state-of-the-art building, due for completion in September 2017.

Parkhall is a thriving and progressive school which caters for pupils from all abilities, religions and backgrounds as Principal George Beattie explains: “The central aim of the College is to provide a caring, inclusive learning environment where each person feels valued and respected. This shared environment is ably supported by a Pastoral Care system that a recent ETI inspection described as ‘very good’. Pupils are encouraged to respect themselves, and others, in order to build positive relationships and to work together to develop self-confidence, self-esteem and mutual understanding.”

The College places tremendous emphasis on developing a broad, balanced curriculum that provides every child with the opportunity to succeed. In June 2016, 83 per cent of pupils obtained at least 5 A* to C grades at GCSE, with a significant number of pupils gaining 9, 10 or 11 A* to C grades.

Further information can be obtained from the College website parkhallintegratedcollege.org


INST CONTINUES TO EXEMPLIFY EXCELLENCE AND PARTICIPATION
Open Day Sat 7 January 2017 9.30am – 12.30pm

It is timely to reflect on an extremely busy year for RBAI and one of unprecedented success. Results at GCSE, AS and A2 have been excellent, with the pupils meeting or exceeding their potential. This reflects both the commitment and outstanding teaching of the staff, and the diligence and hard work of the students. Each student has been nurtured in an environment which prioritises their wellbeing and caters for their individual needs with outstanding resources and facilities. The evidence of the success of this approach is not visible only in the academic results, but in the levels of participation and success in the extra-curricular clubs and societies.

The successes and accomplishments of boys spans the school’s enrichment programme. Rugby demonstrates the outstanding sports provision at the school; in another stellar year the boys completed the ‘double double’ by winning the Schools’ Cup and Medallion Shield for the second successive season. The 1st XI cricketers won the McCullough Cup and four Instonians represented Ireland and Great Britain in Rio on the hockey pitch. The RBAI Team represented the UK in the European Youth Parliament against 34 other European countries. Further, the school’s musicians continue to excel, performing an eclectic range of music to an extremely high and professional level.

The Year 8 boys have integrated well into the life of the school and the induction process has been praised by parents, one of whom commented “My son is loving every minute.” Another parent observed “My son has coped very well with the changes ‘big school’ brings….Thank you for making this an easy process.” This is as important to us as it is to new parents and we will continue to put our pupils’ needs to the fore.


A SUPPORTIVE LEARNING ENVIRONMENT AT GROSVENOR GRAMMAR SCHOOL
Open Day Wed 5 & Thu 6 January 2017 6.30pm – 9.30pm
Prospective Sixth Form Open Day Mon 13 March 2017 at 7pm

Grosvenor Grammar School is a multi-cultural, non-denominational and co-educational school situated in the Castlereagh area of East Belfast. The school provides a high quality education to all pupils, enabling them to participate in a wide range of curricular, extra and co-curricular activities.

The school is characterised by a pleasant atmosphere in which pupils are encouraged to develop all of their capabilities. The curriculum gives emphasis to academic, social, moral and physical development and the pupils are encouraged to grow in self-confidence throughout their years in the school. The welfare and progress of each pupil and constructive home/school links are encouraged and maintained through the counselling team, Form Teachers and Heads of Year.

Grosvenor’s prime position and extensive grounds have made the school attractive to pupils from many urban, sub-urban and rural Primary Schools, mainly in East & South Belfast and North & Mid-Down areas.

At Grosvenor the pupils consistently achieve outstanding examination results at GCSE and A Level, as was the case once again in August 2016. However, we pride ourselves on providing a caring school with a supportive learning environment in which all are inspired to achieve high standards and to become tolerant and confident adults.


PRIORY INTEGRATED COLLEGE NAMED APPLE DISTINGUISHED SCHOOL
Open Day Thu 12 January 2017 at 6.30pm

Priory Integrated College in Holywood is delighted to announce that it has been recognised as an Apple Distinguished School for 2016-18 for its use of Apple technology to empower students and teachers and raise standards across the whole school.

The Apple Distinguished School designation is reserved for schools that meet criteria for innovation, leadership and educational excellence, and which demonstrate a clear vision of exemplary learning environments.

"We are proud to be one of the schools in the UK to have achieved this award," said Priory Principal, Jacqui Magennis. "It is a validation of all of the hard work invested by the young people and the college staff over recent years. In that time, learning across the curriculum has been transformed. The introduction of our Digital Classrooms Initiative in 2014, which has provided every child and teacher with their own iPad, has been a key feature of this transformation."

The selection of Priory highlights its success in providing an innovative and compelling learning environment that engages pupils of all abilities and provides tangible evidence of their academic achievements. "Apple technology has provided new ways of developing pupils' skills of communication, creativity and collaboration. In addition, they can now take their classroom everywhere, blurring the lines between learning in school and at home," said the college's eLearning Co-ordinator, Jonathan Mansfield.

Looking to the future, the next development in Priory’s Digital Classrooms Initiative is to develop a suite of Multi-Touch Books for publication, as well as a range of courses for pupils in coding and app design, which will open up a wealth of career opportunities, both here in NI and beyond.
Priory IC is an all-ability, integrated college, educating pupils aged 11-18 from across North Down and Greater Belfast. If you'd like to learn more about the college, the open night is on Thursday January 12, 2017 from 6.30pm.


BUILDING SUCCESS STORIES AT BALLYCLARE SECONDARY SCHOOL
Open Day Tue 3 January 2017 6.45pm – 9pm

The school aim is “Personal Excellence”, something every child can achieve. Ballyclare Secondary School continues to build success stories across the curriculum and beyond.

Highlights from the 2015-2016 Academic Year were as follows: In the sporting arena the U14 and U16 hockey teams were crowned Northern Ireland High Schools Cup Winners, our dedicated Show Jumping Team won the Tack and Turn Out competition in the St Patrick’s Day Derby, and our Dance team had enormous success in the NI Creative Movement Championships and The Ulster Dance Championships.

The U16 rugby team were also High Schools Cup finalists, while the 1st XV won the 3rd XV plate competition and the U12, U13 and U16 football teams were crowned East Antrim Champions. In the Ballyclare Music Festival, we accrued a number of 1st places and gained a 2nd place in the Northern Ireland Soroptimist Public Speaking final. Finally ‘Forget Fossil’ our school Kit car competed in the National Finals in Rockingham, England.


CARRICKFERGUS GRAMMER SCHOOL – CHALLENGING YOUNG MINDS
Open Day Thu 26 January 2017 6.30pm – 9pm

Carrickfergus Grammar School is a thriving school community with a warm, positive atmosphere which values the academic promise of each individual child who joins us.

In a period of educational uncertainty for so many families, we aim to provide welcome stability and a strong reassurance to parents that your child will be educated to their highest academic potential in a caring environment which challenges young minds whilst supporting personal development.

Please visit our website, from which we hope you glean something of our strong sense of purpose. We also operate a school Facebook page and Twitter account that allow us to communicate with pupils, staff, parents and alumni. See carrickfergusgrammar.com, facebook.com/carrickfergusgrammar, twitter.com/@carrickgrammar or call Tel: 028 9336 3615


LAGAN COLLEGE – 35 YEARS OF INTEGRATED EDUCATION
Open Day Sat 14 January 2017 9am - 12.30pm

As Northern Ireland’s first planned integrated school, Lagan College is very proud to be a co-educational 11-18, all-ability school that meets the needs of a wide range of young people from over 50 feeder primary schools, celebrating our 35th Anniversary this year.

We are committed to academic excellence and high quality pastoral care, as well as creating and promoting a strong integrated and inclusive ethos based on core Christian values of respect, reconciliation, service and equality. A unique feature of the college is that we have two Chaplains who are here to meet the pastoral needs of all children in our care, irrespective of their faith background. Founded by parents in 1981, Lagan College is set in the Castlereagh hillside above Belfast and benefits from strong partnerships with both the National Trust and Eco Schools and we are very proud to say that we currently hold an astonishing four Eco Schools ‘Green Flag’ awards and are named as a UK Eco Ambassador School.

We offer an exciting and varied learning menu of 34 GCSE courses and 26 A Level courses. Our Sixth Form Provision is excellent, and our brand new, state-of-the-art school campus is among the top facilities in Northern Ireland, comprising a new Sixth Form Study Centre, Sixth Form Recreational Centre, over a dozen ICT and Mac suites, a wide range of sporting facilities and a beautiful library. All 1,270 students and 150 members of staff benefit from this impressive high-spec accommodation, which also includes site-wide WiFi as we continue to equip students with iPads as part of a blended learning approach.

Learning and developing together is at the heart of what we do. We celebrate effort, achievements and diversity. We provide a range of learning opportunities and educational visits beyond the classroom and offer over 40 different extra-curricular clubs. We believe that we have something to offer all children.


BELFAST ROYAL ACADEMY – HIGH EXPECTATIONS AND HIGH STANDARDS
Open Day Wed 11 & Thu 12 January 2017 6.45pm – 9pm

Belfast Royal Academy is the oldest school in the city; founded in 1785, we celebrated our 230th anniversary in 2015. The School’s distinctive ethos is deeply rooted in our history – a community defined by high expectations and high standards achieved without severity, which seeks to ensure that every pupil feels known and valued, that they are inspired in the classroom and challenged to fulfil their potential.

All our pupils at Belfast Royal Academy are encouraged to develop their talents in whichever field they choose and we seek to ensure they will leave school as well-rounded, confident and happy individuals who have a continuing attachment to the Academy. High academic standards are matched with an emphasis on participation in extra-curricular activities, through which pupils can develop their confidence and skills while making new friends.

Tour our school, meet staff and pupils and experience the wealth of extra-curricular activities on offer at our open evenings on Wednesday 11 and Thursday January 12, 2017. Prospective Sixth Form pupils are also welcome. Visit belfastroyalacademy.com to find out more.


ACHIEVEMENT FOR ALL AT BELFAST MODEL SCHOOL FOR GIRLS
Open Day Thu 5 January 7pm – 9pm & Fri 6 January 2017 9.30am – 12pm

The Belfast Model School for Girls is an all-ability 11-19 secondary school that is proud to serve the needs of pupils and parents from a wide area of North, West, South Belfast and also Newtownabbey.

We are a child-centred school, our mission statement is “Achievement for All” and at the heart of all we do is a clear focus on the learning and wellbeing of all of our students, to assist them to succeed and achieve excellence.

We are proud of our state-of-the-art facilities, that are second to none. Through these we provide the very highest of academic, sporting and performing experiences.

Our dedicated, talented staff work tirelessly to support the learning and wellbeing of our students. Consistently excellent examination results are testament to the quality of teaching and learning that is provided.


EXCELLENCE SPEAKS FOR ITSELF AT DOWNEY & FULLERTON HOUSE SCHOOLS
Open Day Downey: Thu 16 March 2017, 2pm – 4pm. Fullerton: Fri 17 Match 2017, 10am – 12pm

Methodist College is fast approaching its 150th birthday. The Preparatory Department of Downey & Fullerton House Schools will join in the celebrations as the College has catered for primary and post-primary age children for nearly all of its 150 years.

The photograph is of our championship winning girls’ hockey team and it demonstrates how both Downey and Fullerton House Schools use the College’s tag line of opportunity diversity excellence to describe the learning journey for children from three to 11 years (including the two prep pre-school units).

The school’s broad curriculum and wide range of activities ensure that the children have many opportunities to try new events and pastimes often for the first time. Our teaching and coaching staff are skilled to ensure that these activities are both fun and competitive.

We have a diverse school population in both religious and ethnic mix and being co-educational we have boys, girls and mixed teams across a range of sports.

Excellence speaks for itself but we do believe that participation and fun are important aspects of a child’s development.


MAXIMISING FULL POTENTIAL AT STRANGFORD COLLEGE
Open Day Wed 25 & Thu 26 January 2017 at 7pm

Strangford is proud to be an integrated school, built on Christian values, which we aim to demonstrate in the daily life of our College. The 11-19 Grant Maintained Integrated College is fortunate to have the services of Protestant and Catholic Chaplains. We constantly seek to maximise our students’ full potential and celebrate their achievements.

Strangford offers both Grammar Entry (for 35 per cent of admissions), and all-ability entry – thus ensuring that the College provides pace setters for all learners. Our school attract some of the most academic students from our feeder primary schools, as well as those who require support for learning – this is a key feature of our integrated school.

Our College Credo sums up our ultimate goals for the students in our care: Inspire Achieve Excel.
Strangford is committed to developing effective and active learning through the best in Teaching for Learning techniques. The College has a research and development team, made up of teachers, teaching assistants, students and governors, who are developing the College Learning Cycle – the blueprint for all our lessons.

The development of leadership is a key focus of the College, and the innovative House System is an integral part of College life. Strangford College is working towards achieving Unicef’s Rights Respecting Schools’ Award and is currently a finalist for the UK’s Kindest School Award.

A new-build campus is on the way for Strangford, and we are looking forward to moving into our state-of-the-art facilities. Strangford College has a warm family atmosphere and we value every member of our community – students, staff, parents and governors.

We hope you will join us at our open nights to see what we can offer your child.


THE RIGHT CHOICE – JOINING ASHFIELD GIRLS’ HIGH SCHOOL
Open Day Tue 17 January 2017, 6.30pm - 9pm

Ashfield Girls’ High School is a school which challenges girls to achieve their potential, creates opportunities both in academic terms and in extra-curricular activities for every pupil, all in a caring, supportive and pastoral atmosphere. Girls in Ashfield succeed, irrespective of their academic ability, with 62 per cent of pupils achieving 9+ GCSEs/BTEC and 100 per cent of girls achieving at least 2 A Levels.

The school celebrates success in so many ways – in school assemblies, through its successful and thriving House System or at its Junior and Senior Prize Days.

Parents have no need to be concerned when their daughters move from primary to Ashfield Girls’. The staff will ensure, through the Year 8 Activity Days; Parents’ Information Sessions; the School App, Website and School Planner, that they and their daughters are always kept well informed. When joining Ashfield Girls, we guarantee girls will be nurtured, gain confidence and achieve success.


ST COLM’S HIGH SCHOOL – A VIBRANT AND AMBITIOUS LEARNING COMMUNITY
Open Day Thu 5 January 2017, 7pm - 8.30pm

St Colm’s High School is a leading post-primary school situated in the Colin area of West Belfast.
It is a vibrant and ambitious learning community, with a focus on high academic standards evidenced in our excellent GCSE results. The Pastoral Care and Personal Development Standards have been recognised as outstanding in an ETI inspection report (Nov 2010).

All staff work hard to ensure the highest quality of education in a safe, supportive and inclusive learning environment for our young people. Working together as a team, staff and parents are committed to helping each pupil achieve their very best and to live our motto, ‘We do the best to be the best that we can be’.

Pupils have the opportunity to engage in a wide variety of extra-curricular activities through both our Extended Schools’ programme and our innovative Shared Education partnership with Fort Hill College.


‘TIS THE SEASON AT ST LOUISE’S COLLEGE
Open Day Thu 12 January 2017 at 4.30pm

The students and staff of St Louise’s College are currently working very hard preparing for their Christmas celebration entitled, ‘Tis the Season’. The production will showcase the combined efforts of the Performing Arts’ students and teachers. The production promises to be a great success featuring a variety of Christmas songs, dramatisations including the iconic poem, ‘Twas the Night before Christmas’ and beautiful choreography. The talented students of St Louise’s promise to bring energy, vitality and Christmas spirit to the stage.

The show will run for a total of two evenings, Thursday December 1 and Friday December 2 plus two additional matinee performances for primary schools. Over 800 primary school children will attend the matinee performances and the Primary 3 pupils from John Paul II Primary School will also be participating in the show.


A NEW PRINCIPAL FOR FORT HILL INTEGRATED COLLEGE
Open Day Thu 26 January 2017, 7pm – 9pm

Fort Hill Integrated College, has welcomed Colin Millar as its new Principal. Mr Millar has taken on the role following the retirement of Mrs Marian Getty, after 14 years serving as Principal at the 850 student college. Originally from Omagh, Co Tyrone, Mr Millar had worked in education in England for more than 18 years, before returning to Northern Ireland.

Mr Millar spoke of his excitement to be joining Fort Hill following the school’s recent record-breaking examination success. ‘Already I am finding within Fort Hill the expectation that students will achieve academic success in a learning environment that provides opportunities and experiences for all. I can see the College’s core values of honesty, effort, attitude, respect and tolerance aren’t simply words on a wall, but part of the daily experience of all working within our College community’.

From the initial Girls’ High School, then a Co-Educational School, Fort Hill transformed to an Integrated College and continues to grow, sitting in an integrated campus with Fort Hill Integrated Primary School, providing nursery, primary and post-primary education.

“Our Integrated education is about the development of the whole person, encompassing the intellectual, emotional, physical, social, cultural and spiritual dimensions of the young people in our care. Therefore our school is organised in such a way as to address all of these facets of our pupils’ personalities, providing learning opportunities with a future-focused curriculum built on the existing foundation of pupil-centred pastoral care.”

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