Year dominated by external scrutiny for Dalriada

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DALRAIDA was subjected to a year ‘dominated by external scrutiny’ according to the Headmaster’s fifth annual report.

Speaking at the annual Prize Day Principal Tom Skelton said it had been a significant year following a full school inspection by the Education and Training Inspectorate ‘for the first time in 17 years’.

Mr. Skelton continued: ‘We were then voluntarily subjected ourselves to further scrutiny by the Investors in People Organisation’.

He went on: “Notification of the ETI inspection in September 2010 caused a great flurry amongst the staff with emotions ranging from anticipation and excitement, to anxiety and downright fear. It was a case of all hands on deck as our entire staff worked even harder than usual to ensure that Dalriada was ready and prepared for our visitors from Rathgael House. Indeed, by the start of the week long inspection on 18th October it was a case of “bring them on”!

“The rest, as they say is history and we received a glowing report from the Inspectorate, highlighting outstanding pastoral care, high quality teaching and learning and an extensive range of extra-curricular activities. In particular, the inspectors praised the behaviour and maturity of our pupils and also the unique ethos which exists in our school. As a result of the inspection, I believe staff, pupils, parents and governors can be justifiably proud of our inspection report.

“Towards the end of the school year we decided to apply for further external assessment, this time by prestigious Investors in People Organisation. Again, our school was under scrutiny during a robust and rigorous assessment carried out on 21st June, involving a sample of teaching and support staff. Even our Chair of Governors did not escape the probing questions of our assessor. However, I am both proud and delighted to report that as a result of this assessment, that Dalriada has received full accreditation as an Investor in People. Although we were thrilled to gain this award, it simply validated what we already knew – Dalriada is a school where governors, staff, pupils and parents feel valued and respected in an environment where we continually strive for excellence in all that we do. Our ability to work together as a team remains our greatest strength.”

Mr Skelton went on to outline ‘another outstanding year’ in terms of academic achievement and extracurricular success and praised the hard work and commitment of our teaching staff.

He also outlined how ‘tragedy struck our school community on Sunday 5th December 2010 when our friend and colleague Mrs Shirley McCauley was killed in a car accident as she returned from church’.

He continued: “The shock was felt within the prep Department where she worked as Secretary but also in the Secondary Department where many former Prep pupils and staff had benefited from her work and support. She was a remarkable lady who was held in high esteem by staff, parents and pupils alike.”

He also paid tribute to teaching staff who had also passed away or retired as well as welcomed new members of staff.

He explained: “The Common Entrance Assessment continues to be a robust method of selection maintaining the solid support of parents in favour of academic selection. The Association of Quality Education under the sound leadership of Mr Billy Young continues to devise tests which are fit for purpose and meet the highest levels of scrutiny.

“Almost 200 children sat the three tests in Dalriada and I am indebted to everyone, both teaching and support staff, who voluntarily gave up their Saturday mornings to ensure that the orientation day and the three tests ran smoothly. Feedback from parents was extremely positive with children being made to feel welcome and at ease. As a result of the tests Dalriada admitted 128 pupils into Year 8 based on academic ability, regardless of religious, social or cultural background.”

He then outlined the schools extra-curricular provision including sporting achievements as well as the outstanding pupil achievements and the major school events which took place throughout the year

He then went on to praise the acedemic development of individual pupils: “A level 77% of Upper Sixth form students gained at least 3 or more A*- C grades. 68.4% of grades at A level were A*- B and 89.60% of grades at A level were A* - C Four pupils gained an outstanding 3 A* grades each – Gavin Harvey, James McCaughern, Jonathon McLaughlin and Richard Surgenor.

“At AS Level 71% of Lower Sixth form students gained at least 3 A* - C grades. 90% of all AS grades obtained by Dalriada pupils were A – C. 61.9% of grades at AS level were A – B grades. 20 pupils gained at least 3 A grades and 10 pupils gained the maximum 4 A grades each.

“Finally at GCSE 98% of our pupils gained 5 or more A* - C grades. A very impressive 94% of our pupils gained 7 or more A* - C grades and an equally impressive 69% gained 7 or more A* - B grades. 26 pupils gained at least 8 A*/A grades. Four pupils, Emma Christie, Stuart Fallows, Issac Kerr and Rebekah Warke gained 8A*/A grades whilst Abigail Currie gained an outstanding 9A* grades.

“ It is pleasing to see a number of our leavers with us today and we wish all of you continued success in your chosen courses at colleges and universities, and in your future career.

“I take this opportunity to thank parents for your immense contribution to your Childs’ education and also for your loyal and continued support for our school. I would also like to thank our local press for the excellent coverage of all our school events.

“In conclusion this has been a year where our school community has certainly been under the microscope. However, the two external validations of all that we do in school has simply enhanced Dalriada’s reputation as an outstanding school with dedicated staff, committed Governors, supportive parents and wonderful children. We are well prepared to meet the considerable educational and financial challenges which lie ahead. Together we will succeed.”