RECORD-breaking exam results at Dalriada School in Ballymoney have been praised by Headmaster Tom Skelton.
In his report at 2012 Speech Day, Mr Skelton said: “This has been another outstanding year for Dalriada School with pupils producing record-breaking examination results coupled with tremendous extra-curricular achievements.
“This year’s GCSE results were the best overall set of results in the history of the school, further enhancing our reputation as one of the top grammar schools in the Province.
“This year’s external examination results were impressive with the GCSE results being the best in the history of the school. At GCSE 100% of candidates obtained at least five A*-C grades. Indeed, 95.2% of candidates obtained seven or more A*-C grades, including Maths and English. Almost 56% of the grades achieved by Dalriada pupils were A*/A grades, an outstanding figure. Five pupils Jordan Bamford, Annie Cassells, Freya McIlvenna, Susanna Peden and Grace Torrens obtained a maximum 9 A* grades across all their subjects.
“At AS level results were also impressive. 75% of the Lower Sixth Form obtained at least 3 A-C grades. 32% of all grades obtained by Lower Sixth students were A grades and almost 60% of all Dalriada grades were A-B grades, well above the Northern Ireland average. Twelve students obtained a maximum 4 A grades each.
“In Upper Sixth, 73% of our pupils obtained at least 3 A*- C grades each. Over 38% of all A level grades obtained at Dalriada were A* or A grades, well above the Northern Ireland Grammar School average of under 32%. Seven students, Rachel Love, Samuel Stewart, Laura Cull, Kelly-Ann Sweeney, Hannah Tran, Matthew Wray and Amy Loan achieved 4 A*/A grades each.
“As Headmaster, I value the hard work and commitment of all our staff in Dalriada. By working together each person contributes to the unique Dalriada ethos where we can all feel valued and respected. The willingness of our staff to ‘go the extra mile’ to meet the needs of our pupils is something which is appreciated by governors, pupils and parents alike.”
Mr Skelton also made reference to Dalriada Prep.
He said: “It has been a year where financial constraints has had an ever increasing effect on the management of the School. A reduced school budget continues to force governors to seek greater efficiency yet still retain high standards of teaching and learning, pastoral care and our huge range of extra-curricular provision. However, by the prudent use of our financial resources and the willingness of our staff to adapt to the evolving needs of the school we have managed to retain the quality and variety of what we do.
“Unfortunately, the reduced funding for schools and the financial recession resulted in a severe decline in pupil numbers in the Preparatory Department and ultimately forced us to produce a Development Proposal for the eventual closure of Dalriada Prep. My thanks go to the staff of the Preparatory Department who have made a huge contribution to the education of generations of children who attended Dalriada Preparatory Department.
“In a year where redundancies were widespread in post primary schools across the Province, Dalriada avoided any compulsory redundancies by a number of staff accepting voluntary redundancies, career break or reduced hours. As a result, no member of staff in Dalriada Secondary Department lost their job.
“As schools in general, and grammar schools in particular, face an increasingly challenging future, I remain confident that Dalriada can meet these challenges and continue to provide a high quality educational experience. I am reassured by the popularity of the school which continues to be heavily oversubscribed for entry into Year 8 and Sixth Form. This year we were particularly pleased to be allowed to accept a number of pupils from our neighbouring schools in Ballymoney and beyond, into our Sixth Form and we hope this trend is allowed to continue in the years ahead.
“This was a challenging year for our Governors with many difficult decision to make. However, ably led by our Chairman Mr. Brian Dillon, the Governors have worked tirelessly to reach rational decisions and strategically plan for the further development of the School. This support, expertise and guidance is greatly appreciated.
“The Common Entrance Assessment continues to be a robust method of selection maintaining the solid support of parents in favour of academic selection. I am delighted to report that this year, we had no legal challenges to our process of selection. Over 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.
“We continue to work closely with our neighbours Ballymoney High School, Our Lady of Lourdes and Northern Regional College through the Ballymoney Learning Community. All GCSE pupils in the Ballymoney area have access to a broad range of collaborative courses which helps meets the demands of the Entitlement Framework and also helps develop greater co-operation and trust between the pupils and their schools. What a pity that funding to help to promote this collaboration will be withdrawn after this academic year,” he said.