Thursday, 22 February 2018
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Spring 2017

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..

Parents who choose this route often cite smaller classroom sizes, specialist teachers, the links to the grammar school and on-site facilities as their reasons for opting for this choice.

As with every type of school, each will be different and will vary in terms of ethos, amenities, teaching styles and additional benefits, such as on-site wraparound care. And as with every big life-changing decision, the important thing to do is to research all the options and find out what’s on offer to make sure that you have found the right school for your child.

Here, five local Prep Schools highlight what they are most proud of and can offer your family…

The Wallace High School Pre-Preparatory Department: Foundations for the Future

The Wallace High School Pre-Preparatory Department gives children from the age of two years and 10 months their all-important introduction to the learning environment.

The early years are critical in terms of successful intellectual, social, emotional, physical, and creative development. At Wallace, we provide a very effective introduction to those concepts which are central to successful learning without subjecting the children to any feeling of pressure; learning is presented to these young children in an enjoyable, easily assimilated way.

We recognise that all pupils have different talents and strive to ensure that every pupil has an equal opportunity to find and develop the talents they do possess.

Our Pre-School Educator plans the structure of activities carefully in order to develop the children’s self-confidence and nurture an enjoyment of school. The addition of social experience and plenty of play provide a fully-rounded educational foundation during the vital early years.

Children will have the opportunity to:
• Explore the immediate environment and handle and use various materials.
• Appreciate the value of books.
• Acquire communication and mathematical skills.
• Gain enjoyment from the company of other children.
• Begin to solve problems.

Our experienced team shapes the curriculum to suit children’s needs and interests to ensure they leave us as confident, well-prepared and highly motivated learners. Pastoral Care is outstanding, every child in our small school is known to all.

We have small class sizes – the session is capped at 17 pupils. The staff ratio of 1:8 enables us to personalise the learning for your child.

We are a purpose-built facility surrounded by playing fields, tennis courts, nature areas and lots of open and planned playing space.

To arrange a walk around please contact Mrs Agnew on Tel: 028 92672311 or email

The Royal School Armagh Preparatory Department: A Supportive and Happy Environment

At the Preparatory Department, we offer pupils a supportive and happy environment that encourages the girls and boys to enjoy learning, grow in self-confidence and acquire a wide range of worthwhile interests.

We believe that school should be a caring place where pupils receive a broad education which fires their imagination and develops their personality. At The Royal School Prep, high academic expectations are complemented by the development of values and skills that give the children firm foundations for adult life.

Learning should be fun and we tailor our curriculum to make it interesting, exciting and relevant to young children. Emphasis is placed upon building firm foundations and nurturing a love of learning. We aim to inspire all pupils to do their best and to become more independent learners.
The curriculum is taught in small teaching groups and incorporates specialist tuition in music, languages, PE, hockey, games and swimming. Our after school curricular activities encourage the children to experience something new and widen their horizons.

Inchmarlo: Excellence and Participation

Inchmarlo has changed over the years, as has its entry process and we felt it was important to let you know how this makes us just that little bit different.

We are not part of the Education Authority nursery and primary school application process. You can apply for a place at Inchmarlo AT ANY TIME. (In fact with limited places available the sooner you apply the better!)

Inchmarlo numbers are now capped at 168 pupils in Primary and twenty in Pre-school. This means places are at a premium and we have a growing waiting list for certain year groups.

However, there are a number of ways to help ensure the best chance of your son getting a place in Inchmarlo. Firstly, there is an automatic route in to the Prep from the Pre-school, rewarding those who choose us as their first point of education for their son. Secondly, download the application form from our website and send it in early… with a rush for places it can make the difference.

Ben Madigan Preparatory School: Where Individual Personalities and Talents can Flourish and Blossom

Ben Madigan Preparatory School is non-denominational and open to girls and boys. We also offer breakfast club, pre-school and after-school facilities to accommodate working parents. We sow the first seeds of academic, sporting, artistic, cultural and personal ambition in our pupils.

Nestled within the spectacular castle grounds site off the Antrim Road, with a panoramic view over Belfast Lough, Ben Madigan offers your child a safe haven of learning, where individual personalities and talents can flourish and blossom.

Academic excellence in the classroom is enhanced with a wide and exciting variety of extra-curricular opportunities including sport, music, drama and the arts.

“The recent school developments in the children’s use of ICT including the forward planning and vision for their use of the most up to date ICT tools are noteworthy and are having a direct impact on the very good provision for ICT”. ETI Inspection Report 2013

“In the Areas inspected the quality of education provided by this school is very good”. ETI Inspection Report 2013

Downey House: Developing Learning Opportunities
Earlier this term, Mr Nigel Hutchinson, the Regional Director of Kainos PLC opened Downey’s brand new IT suite. This followed the wonderful refurbishment of the school library in 2015 and means that the school now has state-of-the-art library and IT facilities suitable for 21st century learning.

All of the furniture in the old IT suite was replaced with bright and attractive benching designed to maximise teaching of IT, cupboards were provided for document and resource storage and a Promethean Smartboard was also installed. The development of the new suite was the third phase of IT support by the PTA which covered increasing the number of PCs, providing tablet computers and finally refurbishing the IT suite.

This magnificent improvement was only possible with fabulous support from parents and supporters of the school over a lengthy period of time, coupled with a desire to see Downey develop as a happy, safe and forward-thinking learning environment.

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