ST Patrick’s and St Brigid’s Primary School and Nursery Unit in Ballycastle is one of the first schools in the whole of Northern Ireland to receive a coveted ‘inclusion’ award.
And the school pointed out it is the first school in the North-Eastern Education Board area to receive the accolade.
It is an Inclusion Quality Mark (IQM) Award and the school was in London recently to pick it up.
School principal Eamonn Magee told the Times: “There are only two other primary schools to have received this award in Northern Ireland and we are the first primary school in the North Eastern Education & Library Board to have received this IQM Award.”
The summary of the report, produced by the assessor, said: ‘St Patrick’s and St Brigid’s Primary School and Nursery Unit clearly demonstrates some excellent inclusive practice which is led by the Principal, the Vice Principal (VP) and the Senior Management Team (SMT) and implemented by all staff and other stakeholders within the school, all of whom have wholeheartedly embraced inclusion.
‘Throughout the assessment period, it was clearly evident that the inclusion agenda is supported through an ethos of well embedded values and there are good structures and systems in place to ensure open dialogue with all members of the school community and to provide inclusive pastoral and academic experiences for all pupils.
‘The wellbeing of all stakeholders is of great importance in St Patrick’s and St Brigid’s Primary School and Nursery Unit. Pastoral care and academic achievement are seen as key and everyone is well supported in their respective roles, both professionally and at a personal level.
“Throughout the assessment everyone spoke with conviction and unity of purpose as to the inclusive nature of the school, thereby substantiating the school’s documentation, which was considered as part of the assessment. The ethos of an inclusive community was evident, as was the professional and committed way the Teachers, Classroom Assistants (CAs) and pupils engage in their pursuit of education.
‘I am of the opinion that the school fully meets the standard required by the Inclusion Quality Mark. There are only minor areas requiring development and the school is aware of these. I recommend that the school be awarded the Mark and be reassessed in 3 years’ time,’ the report stated.
* Meanwhile, the school has also been recognised by the British Council for its work involving schools from a range of countries including Sir Lanka, Spain, Africa and France to name but a few.
The school children have experienced teacher exchanges involving Sir Lanka and this month one teacher is visiting France to develop her classroom skills and cultural music knowledge that she can disseminate in the school when she returns.
As a result of this international participation the British Council has awarded the school its prestigious ‘International Schools’ Award’ at full level status.
Rights Respecting Schools’ Award awarded by UNICEF awarded to schools who promote and endorse the ‘UN Convention of the Rights of the Child’. The school has already received Level One status award in 2007 and has just completed the advanced level 2 Award assessment.
Mr Magee said the assessors were very impressed by the level of work and commitment shown by the children and all of the school community toward the development of ‘Rights Respecting School’ ethos.