Wednesday, 21 February 2018
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Christmas & New Year 2017

An open day presents a wonderful opportunity to help parents with that all-important decision of which school offers the best environment for their child on their journey through education...

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.

Try to get a feel for the overall atmosphere of the school and ask pupils questions to discover if they are enjoying school life. Check out the notice boards to see what’s happening day-to-day and 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.

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 and the key to unlocking the best possible outcomes for their future, is finding the right place 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...

Wellbeing Ensures Excellence At RBAI

RBAI has traditionally equipped pupils to excel in both academic and extracurricular pursuits; the school’s focus on wellbeing reinforces this tradition. RBAI’s is a double-stranded approach using scientific testing to measure wellbeing and to identify areas of strength and concern. The second strand teaches techniques that have been proven to enhance individual wellbeing.

Head Boy Ben Connolly attributes the four As he achieved in his AS exams in part to the balance in school: “The focus on wellbeing made me think about how I view life. I play golf and rugby for the 5th XV rugby team; the balance between academic work and physical exercise allows me to be at my best.”

And 2017 has proved that wellbeing enhances the performance of boys in both academic and co-curricular pursuits. A number of boys achieved straight A*s at A level and GCSE and four As at AS, many Year 14 leavers took up places at Russell Group universities and there were co-curricular successes across the extensive range RBAI offers from lifting the Schools’ Cup for the third year in a row, to two boys beating competition from the rest of the UK to achieve places in the extremely prestigious National Youth Orchestra.

A School for all Children at Lagan College

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.

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. We are very proud to say that we were awarded an astonishing fifth Eco Schools ‘Green Flag Award’ recently and are one of only ten UK ‘Eco Ambassador’ schools.

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 extracurricular clubs. Alongside All-Ireland level cross-country runners, All-Ireland Basketball Champions, Northern Ireland Hockey Champions, Northern Irish dance champions and successful Football, GAA and Netball teams, we believe that we have something to offer all children at Lagan College.

Grosvenor Grammar School – A caring School with a Supportive Learning Environment

Grosvenor Grammar School is a multicultural, non-denominational and coeducational 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 and 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 2017. 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.

Success Stories at Ballyclare Secondary School

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 2016-2017 Academic Year: In the sporting arena, the U14 and U16 hockey teams were crowned Northern Ireland High Schools Cup Winners. Our dedicated Show Jumping Team competed in the Meadows League and Balmoral competitions. Our Dance team had enormous success in the NI Creative Movement Championships and The Ulster Dance Championships. The U12 Football Team were crowned Northern Ireland Schools Plate Winners and East Antrim Cup winners. The U16 Rugby team were semi-finalists in the High Schools Cup, while the Medallion Rugby team won the Medallion Trophy.

In the Ballyclare Music Festival, we accrued a number of first places and pupils participated in the Northern Ireland Soroptimist Public Speaking competition. Finally, ‘Forget Fossil’ our school kit car competed in the National Finals in Rockingham, England.

A Myriad of Opportunities at Methodist College

“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.

Wellington College Belfast: ENGAGE ~ EDUCATE ~ EMPOWER

Wellington College has a well-deserved reputation as a caring school with a strong pastoral and academic ethos. The College emphasises individual fulfilment and the pursuit of excellence in all aspects of education and holds high expectations of all pupils in terms of behaviour and school work.

The College offers a rich and varied extracurricular programme catering for artistic and dramatic talents as well as sporting prowess and more cerebral pursuits. In addition, pupils have the opportunity to broaden their horizons through a range of trips and visits in a variety of local, national and international settings including sporting trips, language trips and the annual ski trip.

The College believes that to prepare all students for the challenges they face in the future, its job is to present them with as many opportunities as possible in which they can adapt, compete and develop into successful citizens of the future.

The College wants all pupils to achieve the highest standards in all areas of their lives. We expect them to show respect for themselves and others and we want them to embrace the challenge of learning by providing an environment in which all pupils thrive and which prepares them for the future. Tel: 028 9064 2539 or visit

Image caption: Head Boy, Bradley Crooks, Guest of Honour Ms Judith Gillespie, Principal Mr David Castles and Head Girl Emma Jarvie at the College Prize Distribution.

Strangford Integrated College – Shaping Confident, Articulate and Positive Young People

I am delighted to introduce myself as the new Principal of Strangford Integrated College.  I joined the College last year as Deputy Principal and have been thoroughly impressed by the high calibre of staff and students here. It is very clear that Strangford is greatly valued across County Down and beyond.

I am proud to work in an integrated school and know how effective the integrated ethos is in shaping confident, articulate and positive young people. My vision is that the College will continue to develop as a centre of excellence for innovative learning and teaching – one which provides outstanding pastoral care to meet the needs of our young people who join us through grammar and all-ability entry.

Our new-build programme is progressing well to provide a state-of-the-art campus, that will be second to none. It is an exciting time for the Strangford community.

Mrs Clare Foster, Principal

Opportunity, Diversity, Excellence at Downey and Fullerton House Schools

Methodist College is fast approaching its 150th birthday. The Preparatory Department of Downey and 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 3 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.

Ashfield Boys’ High School – A Well-deserved Reputation for High Standards and Success

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.

Your Comments

  • School Open Days: Making the wise choice

    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 relat More..

  • Focus On Prep Schools

    Choosing the path which offers the best start to your child’s educational journey is a momentous decision for any parent. One of the options available to families in Northern Ireland is a preparatory school, the fee-paying department of a grammar school.. More..

  • School Open Days: Making the Wise Choice

    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. More..

  • School Open Days: Making the wise choice

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

  • School Open Days: Making the wise choice

    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. More..

  • Focus On: Integrated Education

    Integrated schools from across the country open their doors to share news of what's been happening, inside and outside the classrooms. More..

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