Slideshow: High School ‘great achievement and anticipation’

Ballymoney High School held a successful Prize Day - here is a slide show of the pictures.

Addressing pupils, staff and guiest, Principal Rodney Scott said: “Tony the Tiger made the word great his selling point for Kellogg’s “Frosties” and we have every reason to say it with the same emphasis at this year’s school prize day.

BALLYMONEY  High School Vice-Principal Cynthia Curry, pictured with Yr8 pupils.

BALLYMONEY High School Vice-Principal Cynthia Curry, pictured with Yr8 pupils.

“We have responded to challenges set, demonstrated our standards of provision to Inspectors, formed and fulfilled many action plans, monitored and improved what we do with and for our pupils, significantly raised our achievement in public examinations and started preparations for a new build extension to our accommodation. All this in the course of one year – and all alongside the regular learning and active life of the school within and beyond classrooms.

“Truly a great year! And today is truly a great day to emphasise our achievement at present and our anticipation for the future.”

Welcome and opening remarks

Mr Chairman, we value positive relationships in our school so as always I extend a warm and genuine welcome to the distinguished members of the platform party, our chief guest, other visiting guests, former and present staff and governors, parents, friends and pupils. Together we are the school Community of Ballymoney High and it’s a delight to have our hall filled to capacity again.

Chief Guest, Mr Shane McCurdy, we make you specially welcome as Chief Executive of NEELB. The future administration of education remains a regular news item and how the present 5 education boards will be arranged into a single entity is not yet clear. However, we can and do testify today to the excellent level of support we enjoy from the personnel and programmes of our NEELB. I thank you for taking time to be with us, as you have in years past. I state and appreciate too your consistent interest in our school, not the least of which currently is the moving forward of plans to provide us with a new build extension block of accommodation for several practical subjects and general classrooms under the School Enhancement Programme. You have been aware of and supportive of the value of this scheme to this school from the very outset and I thank you and your officers for their continuing work on our behalf in this matter. I take opportunity too to thank other NEELB support staff and work teams from the likes of CASS, EWS, Property Services, Grounds & Maintenance, Youth Service or School Meals for their contribution to school learning and life.

Also at the outset I wish to take a moment to note with appreciation the death in the year past of our long-serving and hugely supportive Governors Mrs Kathleen Fulton (mother of our Chair of Governors). Equally we mark with real celebration the 100th birthday of Mrs Molly Holmes JP OBE, forty years a Governor of the school and Chair of Governors for twenty of those years. And we offer congratulations to current Governor and past pupil Mr Mervyn Storey on being appointed a Minister in the NI Executive.

Some other staffing comments are appropriate at this point:

Mrs Butterworth, Mrs Gamble, Mr Houston taking employment elsewhere

Mrs Montgomery, Miss Gamble taking up permanent employment with us, while Ms Beattie and Mr L Donaghy have temporary employment

Mrs Norma McClarty retiring after long and excellent service as CA in LSC

I thank all staff for their most consistent and committed efforts that underpin all that I shall report upon today and all the regular unmentioned learning and life in a big school like Ballymoney High. The school is great, our achievement is great and our anticipation is great because we have and show greatness in what we think and do everyday and each successive school year. I want this day to be a moment of real appreciation we share and enjoy together and a motivation for an even better future. And as staff sit amongst pupils and parents and friends, let’s remember the full breadth and strength and importance of our combined efforts for the future in Ballymoney High. It is always my pleasure to speak this day as Principal, but I speak with sincerity of joint efforts and success – joint and great achievement and anticipation.

The 6Rs of Ballymoney High

Traditionally we think of 3 Rs in schooling. Yet we don’t do things by half – rather – at the double! So we now this year have introduced 6Rs:

READY … REFLECTIVE … RESILIENT … RESOURCEFUL … RESPECTFUL … RESPONSIBLE

We believe they are at the heart of learning and development for all our young people – to grow in character as much as cognition. I will make them the framework of this report and trust no individual or department is upset if they are not mentioned specifically by this approach this year.

(but promise to be succinct!! – not a double 3 point sermon – not the story of the beast)

READY

To celebrate our best ever set of public examination results with 100% of pupils gaining GCSE or equivalent qualifications and within that 95% achieving 5 or more GCSEs and 62% achieving 5 or more at A*-C level – testimony to joint efforts and expertise and determination to raise achievement – best wishes to leavers to progress in learning and life with the standards and values and qualifications attained in Ballymoney High

To maintain raised achievement into the future with this year’s year 12 targeted to achieve even better grades – the experience and expertise of staff help deliver lessons and provide pastoral and learning support to the pupils – this is our singular and dedicated aim and we draw real impetus from this past year’s success

Making ready our young people for adult and working life through a revised and enhanced KS4 curriculum offer with GCSE and equivalent qualifications to suit interests and abilities and career paths – pathways to learn and achieve and be successful in future life and work

To face the future as a core school under Area Based Planning with potential to develop post-16 provision – a position earned in our own right as a successful and sustainable school – also in partnership with our post-primary fellow schools in Ballymoney Learning Community where numbers of courses and events are shared and provided together already at KS4

To welcome a strong and sustained intake of pupils year on year from the local and broader catchment area – over 20 feeder primary schools send pupils to Ballymoney High – we appreciate the continuing trust of pupils and parents to select this school for quality and breadth of secondary education plus the pastoral and extra-curricular provision on offer

Actively to engage in sporting opportunities at local and Northern Ireland levels – some year 11 girls recently attending trials for NI Netball – our hockey, netball, football, rugby, volleyball and athletics teams all acquitting themselves well in competition eg our Boys’ Team came 3rd in the overall NEBSSA Finals while Erin Millar won the javelin competition – our year 12 rugby team reached the High Schools Plate Final while the 1st XI hockey team were joint winners of their league – the school swimming gala was again a great success alongside the annual Sports Day and House competitions

To venture on foreign trips and educational visits eg 30 pupils enjoyed the sights and sounds of Paris including a visit to Euro Disney, our annual Ski Trip went to San Valentino in Italy, while nearer home groups enjoyed visits to Theatres, Stormont and the Folk Museum

To welcome visiting speakers in Careers along with Citizenship and Personal Development, or to enrich and make relevant to life other subject areas, or when special visitors come to view such as Mr Ivan Lewis MP in the company of local MP Mr Ian Paisley

To celebrate the brilliant success of our canteen ladies in being awarded top secondary school meals kitchen in NI – and to enjoy the refreshments in that award winning establishment after this ceremony.

Ready to remember the centenary of the outbreak of WW1 and to pay respect soon as we traditionally do at the borough cenotaph on Remembrance Sunday – it is always proper to make young people aware of their past so they understand their present more fully and can develop a better future

REFLECTIVE

Our response to Inspection has been purposeful, well planned and paced, revising our policies and practice and proving itself positive and productive in our very recent Follow-up Inspection where our standard was raised from Satisfactory to GOOD – a true reflection of our improved capacity and commitment to deliver quality and relevant education to our pupils and with them to achieve ever higher results. We have reflected and improved and are measuring up well to the expected benchmarks (some might even have benchmarked the length of my speech – I hope they’re not way off target)

Positive comments were made by the Inspectors regarding the curricular and pastoral provision of the school, in particular: high expectations and standards shown by teachers and pupils, growing confidence, motivation and achievement, effective use of data to inform lessons and track pupil progress, well planned mentoring to help pupils achieve their best potential, a broad and well suited curriculum for all pupils, good quality monitoring and evaluation and clear capacity to sustain improvement and achievement into the future.

I cannot emphasise enough the great boost this recognition of our standards and efforts has brought to us all on staff and how our purpose and focus remains to be and achieve the best we can and should be in each successive cohort of pupils. I cannot emphasise this enough either to our pupils so that they should play their parts, and to you parents as firm supports and co-workers in successful schooling. The school has important strengths and we are fully determined to maintain these.

Our capacity and means to monitor and evaluate what we provide in school has underpinned this school development work. We are all expected to be self-evaluating and this we do to challenge ourselves to maintain high standards or act for further improvement. The Inspectors were very well satisfied with this and also our key focus on learning and teaching approaches suitable and rewarding to our young people of all abilities.

We in turn are challenging and helping our pupils to set and track their own progress and achievement targets and have introduced new approaches in junior school such as using Thinking Maps to help pupils organise their learning. This year we will lay a focus to develop skills alongside knowledge – Thinking Skills and Personal Capability help pupils learn how best to learn.

We wish also to reflect the views of parents and were very pleased with the positive returns from our Parent Satisfaction Survey in June past, where 90%+ expressed strong support for school provision in curricular, pastoral and extra-curricular aspects of school life. Pupil voice is also included through the School Council and focus group interviews with young people about what they enjoy or would like to see improve in learning and life in our school.

It is proper also to reflect a key statistic that young people spend only 16% of their time actually at school – this highlights the importance of home study and support, the importance of community influences and the need for personal determination to be and do your best by yourself

RESILIENT

To face challenge or criticism and improve where necessary.

This we have shown most clearly in responding to inspection and raising our standards even higher than before.

Staff have engaged in development training sessions to improve their knowledge and practice and capacity – very favourably endorsed by the Inspectors.

Undaunted by inappropriate and ill-informed social media comments at times – we continue committed and determined in what we do because we know it is good and right for our pupils and our own surveys demonstrate community confidence in what we do for our pupils

And we do this because we are not satisfied with average – we are good and determined to be even better

We encourage our young people to be resilient too through Personal Development lessons, Induction activities, Motivational activities such as Amazing Brains and outdoor challenges, Peer Mentoring and other special confidence building activities. Our XL Club for senior pupils allows them to undertake and build skills and strength of character through teamwork challenges.

We are a non-selective school catering for pupils of all abilities – but we are not second best and challenge and encourage our pupils to think and act more highly. Academic results and developed characters amongst our leavers demonstrate this every year in real flesh and blood terms

Like a family, we take pride in success and feel hurt when there are let downs – we praise the good and challenge what is wrong – we give regular example and explanation of the high standards we expect – we do not give up or give in – indeed pupils sometimes wish we would give over, but we are committed to our young people being, doing and achieving their best.

RESOURCEFUL

This is most obviously shown through our planned new build extension which will provide state of the art accommodation in Home Economics, ICT, Business Studies and Music, alongside several general classrooms to replace mobiles. Alongside additional improvements across the other parts of the building this is a positive step forward which will be evident on the ground from September 2016 for the benefit of all our pupils present and future. This is testimony to the core future of the school in this area.

We regularly aim to invest in other learning resources recent amongst which we could mention Mini I-pads and the Accelerated Reader Scheme.

Plans are progressing to establish a Friends of Ballymoney High Group to harness the positive interest and support across our community for the school. This will have an educational, recreational and fund raising purpose and will be closely allied to improved Reward Schemes to incentivise our pupils in good learning and conduct.

Through the ALC we share and benefit together in courses at KS4. While direct EF funding for this is being cut we seek to maintain the current offer of courses in this school and with our partner schools and FE college. We have benefitted too from some joint staff training including a visit from Vic Goddard of television fame at the outset of last year. Sharing good practice is a truly resourceful way to improve what you do yourself by learning from and contributing to the work of fellow schools and professionals. Strength in our own identity, developing our own potential and opportunities while sharing for mutual benefit.

And we need to be ever more resourceful ourselves in times of continuing budget restraints which place very real pressures on school to maintain provision with staff and resources stretched to the limits of tight budgets.

Not surprisingly we aim also to encourage our pupils to be resourceful through fund raising activities for their trips or special events – also to be grateful and make sound use of God given time, talents and resources at their disposal within and beyond school and throughout their lives. It is a Christian and community value to be good stewards of what we possess. A special fundraiser of last year was the School Council Calendar, while our mini enterprise group was busy too

And speaking of talent I must as always pay tribute to the Drama and Music performances and the huge range of sporting activities provided. We look forward to this year’s production of “Hairspray”.

RESPECTFUL

Much charitable work goes on every year and this links from being resourceful to being respectful – for the benefit of others and a feel good factor within ourselves. Children in Need, Readathon, Rock Ministries, Mencap and “Help wee Oliver” were just some highlights of another charitable year – also Christmas shoe box appeal and “Actions not Words” a fitting title for charitable endeavour

Community groups often visit school to speak of their special work to support others and to help make lessons more relevant to real life. Our community week in June brings the year to a fitting end with a range of active workshops for all pupils to enjoy and through which they develop values and skills as much as knowledge.

SU continues weekly too and alongside the pastoral taught programme promotes Christian and personal values for all for life – respect for self and others is vital – equally respect for difference and to our own sense of duty

We have developed a school policy and approach for CRED to enhance this sense of community respect and understanding

We are a school with a big heart and I would wish that caring and community heartbeat ever to be strong.

RESPONSIBLE

We want our young people to mature in mind, body and soul – that aim is central and abiding. It is why personal development and Citizenship education features strongly at KS3&4 – why we offer Heart-start and health education programmes – encourage care for the environment and a Serious about Science Club, along with care for fellow pupils and people near and far – deliver special events like Money Sense. Responsibility is regularly the theme of assemblies and special talks and self-management and organisation is at the core of Thinking Skills & Personal Capabilities across the curriculum

Being responsible for ourselves and having responsibility towards others are equally important to safe, successful and enjoyable life – these qualities are nurtured through the Duke of Edinburg Award Scheme at Bronze and Silver levels in which over 24 pupils participated this year past

From day 1 in year 1 we urge our pupils to look well, behave well, learn well and achieve well – success in year 12 is built throughout 5 years in our school and we are each individually responsible for what we do and achieve – remembering again that figure of only 16% of time spent in school, highlighting the importance of what you do beyond school alongside making most use of precious time in school

It is so true that people do not remember all or even any of what we may say or do to them – but they will remember how we made them feel – that is personal responsibility which none of us can escape or ignore – just as first impressions count, so we must determine to leave a positive impression

Conclusion

Chiefly this school is a community of people and we want to keep building that sense of shared purpose encapsulated in our school phrase – learning for all, learning for life and learning together.

Enjoy this day and this moment of celebration – great achievement Project this spirit and effort into the future – great anticipation

Be READY to sustain achievement.

Be READY to fulfil anticipation.

Be READY to be better than ever before.