Headmaster of Dalriada School welcomed guests to the annual prizegiving ceremony last week.
He said: “I will begin with a brief analysis of our pupil achievements in external examinations in 2017.
“At GCSE 99% of our pupils gained 5 or more A* - C grades, including Maths and English. 97% gained 7 or more A* - C grades and
86% gained 7 or more A* - B grades. Seven pupils gained a maximum 10 A* grades each, namely Mark Crawford, Emily Crutchley,
Sarah Hadden, Robyn Hanna, Jill Hutchinson, Imogen Thompson and Darcy Winchborne. These outstanding GCSE results will match the results of any school in the Province.
“Of last year’s cohort of Year 12 students, 113 of them have progressed to Lower Sixth where they have been joined by 14 students from schools in Ballymoney, Belfast, Bushmills, Coleraine and Oxford. We wish the 10 students who left us well as they pursue alternative courses at various colleges including Northern Regional College and Greenmount Agricultural College. At AS level 78% of our pupils gained at least 3 A – C grades with almost half of the cohort gainin at least 3 A – B grades. 22 students achieved at least 3 A grades each.
“Finally, last year’s Upper Sixth produced the best set of A level grades since we won School of the Year in 2007. A very impressive 83% of students gained at least 3 A* - C grades. Almost 40% of all A level grades in Dalriada were A*/A grades, a tremendous statistic. Special mention must be made of Rachel Wilson, Jack Hall and Jack Elliott who gained 4 A*/A grades each. There were no
U grades and only 4 E grades across the entire year group. Of 123 leavers, 118 applied to University with 5 students taking a Gap Year. Of the 118 applicants, 70% achieved their first choice, 22% achieved their second choice and 6% gained a course through
clearing. In summary 98% of our students were offered a university course which I feel is a measure of strong candidates equipped with appropriate qualifications who have received excellent advice and guidance from our Careers Department, ably led by Mrs. Claire Kelly.
“Following last year’s redundancies, this was a year of consolidation for our staff with a number of senior and middle management positions being filled on a temporary basis. However, I am delighted that our Governors had the courage and the vision to make the following permanent appointments – Ms. Louise Crawford as Pastoral Deputy Head, Mr. Steven Glenn as Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator and Head of Years 9 and 10, Mrs. Nicola Johnston as Head of Sixth Form and Mrs. Heather Millar as Senior Teacher responsible for Learning & Teaching.
“Last year my close friend and colleague Dr. Ian Walker took on additional responsibility and duties as my single Deputy Head and, as usual, met every challenge with an appropriate solution. In addition, he is a tremendous source of support and encouragement. I wish to thanks our Chair of Governors, Mr. Brian Dillon for his leadership support, advice and sheer hard work in ensuring the effective management of Dalriada School in these challenging times. Brian spends endless hours working on issues related to Dalriada, much of which goes unnoticed.
“Our Senior Leadership Team of Mrs. Janice Emerson, Mrs. Heather Millar, Mr. John Devlin plus our two Deputy Heads Ms. Louise Crawford and Dr. Ian Walker have developed into a pretty formidable team. Although we do not always share the same views, there is a fantastic work ethic amongst the team with a refreshing “can do” mentality. I am also grateful to our Bursar Mr. David Balmer who manages limited School finances cautiously but effectively. Our Department Heads and Pastoral Heads continue to provide effective leadership as middle managers of the School. Managing the introduction of new course specifications has been a particular challenge this year but our Department Heads have rose to the challenge and provided real leadership for their colleagues. Our Pastoral Heads continue to support pupils as they face the challenges and pressure of living in today’s changing society.
“To all our staff, both teaching and support, thank you for your hard work, dedication and commitment to life at Dalriada. I am extremely proud of our talented and loyal workforce. A special thank you to Mrs. Pat Crerand and her staff committee, who ensured that staff were able to enjoy a number of excellent social events and have some fun along the way.
“Mr. Terry Stewart, our ICT technician for 17 years retired in June. We thank Terry for his contribution to Dalriada and wish him a long and happy retirement. After a period of extended leave due to illness, we were delighted that our highly esteemed and
much loved Biology teacher and former Head of Years 9 and 10, Mrs. Janice Wylie returned to Dalriada in June this year and it’s great to have her back.
“In June we said goodbye to a number of staff. Dr. Terry Hunter took up employment as an English Teacher in Dalriada in September 2008. Over a nine-year period, Dr. Hunter made a huge contribution to Dalriada, both in the classroom and in extra-curricular drama. He produced a number of plays including last year’s Shakespearian production of Macbeth. An absolute gentleman, Terry’s easy going style endeared him to staff and pupils alike. He retained a great passion for his subject and he will be missed by all. However, we wish him a long and happy retirement.
“Mrs. Leanne McShane took up employment in Dalriada in September 2011 as a teacher of ICT and Business Studies. In 2012 she took on the role of Editor of the School magazine and what a brilliant job she did! Last year Mrs. McShane also looked after Dalriada’s Facebook page. Leanne was a very approachable, caring person who simply got on well with everyone. Although sorry to
see her leave, we wish her well as she takes up her new post as Head of ICT in her previous school, St. Columb’s College, Londonderry. After retiring from teaching in Dalriada in 2012, Ms. Susan Crawford retired as Examinations Officer in June 2017. This is a massive job but Susan filled the post superbly remaining calm, accurate, caring and discreet at all times to provide an excellent service to our students. We wish her all the best for the future. We wish Mrs. Pat Crerand and Mrs. Alison Ewart well in their new roles of Examinations Officer and Assistant Examinations Officer respectively.
“In September we welcomed a number of new staff to Dalriada. Miss Lisa Wharry has been appointed as a teacher of English and she joins us from St. Louis’ Grammar School, Ballymena. Miss Jessica McKenna has been appointed as teacher of ICT with Business Studies and Computer Science and she also joined us after a spell in St. Louis. Miss Victoria McAlpin has taken up the post as a Home Economics jobshare teacher and she joins us from Methodist College, Belfast.
“Finally Miss Rachel McSparron has been appointed to cover Mrs. Clelland’s maternity leave and she joins us from Foyle & Londonderry College. We wish all our new appointments well and look forward to their contribution in the classroom and beyond.
“We continue to work closely with our neighbours Ballymoney High School and Our Lady of Lourdes through the Ballymoney Area Learning Community. This year marked the retirement of Mr. Seamus Farrell as co-ordinator to the group and we are indebted to him for his years of faithful service. His successor Mrs. Mavis Knox has already proved her worth particularly in guiding us through the Shared Education Programme. As our SEP Co-ordinator Mr. Andrew Surgenor has proved to be an excellent appointment and we look forward to a busy year of activities. This was year 2 of a three-year programme and new developments included the setting up of a joint student
council, induction activities for pupils involved in collaborative classes and, more recently, the setting up of support groups to develop literacy, numeracy and ICT with the three schools. Already, we can see the benefits for the pupils of these vital support programmes.
“Unfortunately, our School Development Proposal seeking a small increase in our enrolment number was turned down in June by the Permanent Secretary for Education. This was a huge disappointment after many hours of planning and widespread consultation. With Dalriada already oversubscribed on an annual basis, and no additional resources required, it is difficult to comprehend the rationale behind the discussion. However, the Governors have no intention of giving up on this issue and our thanks are due to Mervyn Storey MLA for his advice and guidance regarding the next step to take in this complicated process.
“‘New Developments’ was chosen as the theme for this year’s magazine in a year which heralded the completion of our new sports complex, a major addition to our school estate. After a construction period of around 18 months the new sports facilities came into use in early 2017 and have been admired and enjoyed by pupils and staff for curricular and extra-curricular sport and also
by numerous community groups. We have exciting plans to develop the use of the state of the art fitness suite to include community membership and use outside school hours.
“Another major development this year was the growth of the Friends of Dalriada group with a current membership of over 80 people. The Friends of Dalriada Support Group has been a key driver in attracting new members, and planning and running a number of successful and enjoyable events including a Pudding Party, a Table Quiz, a Ballymoney Community Fashion Show and an end-of-year barbecue. These well-supported events have helped raise over £12,000, a fantastic achievement. Already some of this money has gone towards the refurbishment of the Sixth Form Study rooms, the History rooms, the Modern Languages rooms and the complete repainting of the
main corridors of the School. My sincere thanks go to the energetic and enthusiastic committee consisting of parents, staff and former pupils who have already drawn up exciting plans for the coming academic year.
“An innovative development this year was the forming of a new partnership with Ballymoney Kidz Club. Following a number of constructive meetings in the Summer term, plans were put into action at a rapid rate to refurbish a school mobile and build an adjoining toilet block before the deadline of August 20. Already we have been impressed by the vision and enthusiasm of the Kidz Club
management group, ably led by Dr. Leanne McCormick and Mrs. Jo Gibson. Both parties should benefit immensely from the partnership with our Senior pupils being able to act as mentors and also gain valuable work experience in the Kidz Club. We look forward to the official opening of the building on Saturday, October 21 and hope to see their membership go from strength to strength.
“Our programme of extra-curricular activities continues to develop the talents and skills of our pupils. In addition to the usual annual musical events, this year the musical show Spectrum was held in the Riverside Theatre and attracted capacity audiences on both evenings. This year also marked the return of Shakespeare to Dalriada with Macbeth being expertly produced by Dr. Terry Hunter in his last school production. This year marked another first for the Music department when our Choir of the Year performe with the Belfast Philharmonic Orchestra and the Ulster Orchestra in an unforgettable evening of Christmas carols held in the Ulster Hall in December.
“The sporting achievements continue to grow in Dalriada with notable successes in Rugby, Hockey, Football, Volleyball, Netball, Athletics and Tennis.
“In rugby our 2 nd XV reached the final of the Ulster Schools’ Plate. The Senior Sevens team were NEBSSA Champions and went on to win the All Ireland Sevens Plate competition, a remarkable achievement. In Volleyball both the Under 16 and Under 18 Girls’ teams were All Ireland finalists maintaining the School’s proud record in these competitions. In Football, the boys’ teams won district leagues in three age groups with the girls’ team also winning their league. Our Under 14 Football team made history by reaching the final of the Northern Ireland Plate competition. Finally, our hugely talented Under 14 boys’ tennis team reached the final of the Ulster Schools’ Cup, another first for Dalriada.
“Dalriada pupils have also achieved individual representative honours in Volleyball, Rugby, Football, Hockey and Athletics. The range of Dalriada trips this year included the History trip to Rome, Hockey and Rugby tour t Barcelona, the Bar Mock World Championships in New York, the ski trip to Boston, the Music an English trip to London, the RE trip to Israel and the French trip to the Loire Valley in France. These trips have provided pupils with experiences they will remember for the rest of their lives.
“Outstanding individual achievements included Benedict Anslow who was runner-up in the Best Individual Speaker at the Northern Ireland Schools Debating competition and Thomas Hancock who was invited to spend four days in Bern, Switzerland, following his success in the Big Bang UK Young Scientists and Engineers Fair. The Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme goes from strength to strength in Dalriada with many pupil completing their Silver Award and a few completing the challenging Gold Award. My thanks to Miss Coey and her energetic team of staff who give up their time at weekends and during holiday to make this possible.
“A massive crowd of over a thousand people attended Dalriada’s Open Morning on Saturday, July 7. Pupils from over fifty primary schools gained an impressive insight into all aspects of life at Dalriada. As a result, almost 200 children applied for admission to Dalriada in September 2017.
“At the CCEA annual “Celebrating Excellence” award ceremony in December, recognising Northern Ireland’s top GCSE and GCE students, four Dalriada students gained awards. Gage McAllister was placed 3rd in GCE Moving Image Arts. At GCSE Catherine Torrens was placed 3rd in Religious Education while Ben Webb and Odhran Combe shared joint 2 nd in Moving Image Arts.
“In conclusion, Dalriada continues to develop the hearts and minds of all the young people in our care and contribute to their academic, physical and social development, producing confident, articulate young adults, well equipped to take their place in modern society.
“My sincere thanks to all staff who run the various clubs and societies on a purely voluntary basis and to the numerous parents and friends of the School who help out in many activities. We are also indebted to our numerous sponsors who provide vital financial assistance for various school activities.
“I thank our Governors and staff for their dedication and devotion to the pupils and the work of the School. I commend our pupils for their commitment and study at school and at home to achieve outstanding academic success and also for their huge contribution to extra-curricular activities. I congratulate all our prize winners on your wonderful achievements.
“Finally, thank you, the parents for the many hours spent supporting your child and for supporting all that we do in
Dalriada. You have every right to be proud of your child’s achievements today.”