The Principal of Coleraine College has praised the tremendous achievements and successes of the school community.
Speaking during the school’s recent Prize Day, Mr Richard Marsh said: “The Brazilian footballing legend, Pele, once declared: Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do.
“The success of these young people in this hall is no accident either: while they may not always have loved studying, they have worked hard, persevered and made sacrifices along the way.
“You guys sitting in front of me are what makes this school special; and it is you who are the most important people in this school; and it is you who can play arguably the biggest role in making this school a successful, happy and respected institution. I want to congratulate you on your achievements which we will recognise shortly when Claire will present you with your certificates, awards and trophies. Well done everyone: you are a credit not only to your school but your families.
“At a Northern Ireland match before the Euros, I bought a programme and there was one article in it that night really stood out for me and it was entitled: Pride Passion Belief. I think these are three very important words for us all to consider.
“Pride: Pride in what you as students do in school in the classroom on the stage or on the football pitch, developing a loyalty to your school. Not about being the best, but the best you can be.
“Passion: Be passionate about education and the experiences and opportunities it affords to you. Get excited by what you are learning and about developing new skills and meeting new people.
“Parents: show your passion too by helping them reach and exceed their goals. I reckon, at GCSE, effective parental input can potentially raise a pupil’s outcomes by at least one grade.
“Belief: Believe in yourselves and you can achieve anything. Look at Leicester City, look at Northern Ireland: believe and you can achieve. I want now to share with you all of the great things that have been happening here over the past academic year and the fantastic achievements of our young people, all of which serve to illustrate that we are a thriving and successful school.
“This year, we saw another positive and very encouraging set of examination results at both GCSE and A-Level. At GCSE, the large increase in the percentage of pupils achieving 5 or more GCSEs including English and Maths that was witnessed last year, was sustained again this year, while the percentage of students achieving a grade C or above in English increased again.
“In 2014 the figure was 26%, in 2015 it jumped to 41% and this year the positive trend continued with 53% of pupils achieving a C or above. T
“his trend is repeated in Maths. This year 47% of pupils achieved a C or above, also an increase from the previous year.
“This has been achieved by a team of dedicated and motivational teachers who, along with external coaches that were funded through the Extended Schools Programme, inspired the students and instilled a sense of belief in their own abilities.
Year 12 pupils in our Learning Support Centre, left school having achieved Entry Level Qualifications in English, Maths and History and Science, GCSE equivalences in Occupational Studies and the equivalent of 2 GCSE B grades from the Prince’s Trust Award.
“In Key Stage 5, our 6th formers made tremendous achievements. Results also improved from last year, with all of our pupils achieving pass grades in all their subjects. It is clear that Coleraine College can provide an educational pathway that allows its students to obtain very good grades and be successful.
The success of these results is reflective not just of the endeavour of the students, but also of the dedicated team of staff, both teaching and non teaching, who go the extra mile to help the pupils reach their potential and I want to publically thank them on your behalf for the work that they have done and continue to do, to help you succeed. I think they deserve a round of applause.
“However it’s not just about exam results, important as they are in an ever competitive world. We want to enrich the lives of our students, providing them with the skills and capabilities in and out of the classroom to make them effective contributors to our community and provide for the holistic development of each child and the examples cited below show how this is currently happening in our school.
“In Geography this year, our Year 9s were involved in a global learning project and wrote letters to the then Primes Minister, David Cameron, and voicing concerns about Global Warming. The pupils and their teacher, Mrs Keys, were both delighted and surprised to receive a reply from 10 Downing Street. They also held their EU referendum, voting to remain within the EU. You backed the wrong horse there guys!
“Our artists had the privilege of working with two local ceramicists in school for a 6 week block.
“They worked alongside the year 11 GCSE pupils and helped them in the design and making of beautiful ceramic boxes with lids based on the theme of the seashore.
“All pupils gained a lot from this experience and their skill level and ability to work successfully in clay has greatly improved as will their grades this June.
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“Students had the opportunity to go on numerous curriculum based trips during the year, including a LLW outing to the new RADAR centre in Belfast, a History trip to the Somme Heritage Centre and Crumlin Road Gaol and drama and English trips to the theatre. Four of our Year 14 students also got the opportunity to be part of the audience of a live TV debate in Belfast called the Good Friday Generation, hosted by Steven Nolan at the BBC. I think the highlight was getting a selfie with Nolan at the end!
“Careers Education Information Advice and Guidance, is a very important part of our curriculum. As well as equipping our students with the knowledge to pass their exams we want to make sure that when they leave school, they make the correct choices to help them on their career path, whatever that may be. Our DEL careers advisor is available to give advice and guidance for Years 10, 12, 14, while the Year 12 Work experience programme helps to build links with local employers and provide valuable skills for our young people.
“There were a number of careers talks this year given by different groups, including The Royal Navy and the Royal Marines Commando. While the senior students were listening to a careers presentation, Year 10 Home Economics students did some cooking with a Royal Navy chef, and made a delicious Thai green chicken curry.
“On the sporting front, College students have achieved a lot. Our Year 8 girls took part in Coleraine Hockey Club’s Tricks4Sticks hockey coaching programme during the course of the year which was supported by Hockey Ireland and led by Stephen McCartney from Causeway Coast and Glens Council. The programme is running again this year and the girls will be entered into a High School League this year and we wish them the best of luck.
Year 8s also participated in a ball and stick, cross community event where they participated in a range of sports including gaelic, hockey and hurling, with other schools in the area.
“We also have an extremely talented and successful young swimmer in our midst. Year 11 student, Stuart Wallace, won numerous medals in different galas, competing right across the country Stuart is involved with the Special Olympic swimming club and while the Rio games game round too soon, his goal is to compete in the next Paralympic games in Tokyo in 2020. Watch this space.
“Our Year 8 rugby team played against other schools in a blitz competition in March and performed really well, progressing from the group stages only to be knocked out by Magherafelt HS who defeated our boys by one try.
Mrs Harris’ Cheerleading team came first in their section at the Northern Ireland Championships held at Valley Leisure Centre in Belfast in May, which was a great achievement.
“In athletics, College students performed to a high standard again this year. At the NEBSSA finals, Kodi –Leigh Stirling came 2nd in the shot , Jordan Pritchard came 2nd in the long jump and Rebecca McCluney came first in shot and discus. In the Districts, Rebecca won a bronze medal, which meant she qualified for the Ulster Finals where she finished in a very commendable 5th place. Finally, in the Coleraine and District Athletics Competition, the girls won 5 gold 6 silver and 11 bronze medals.
“Outside of school, football is my passion and I am pleased to report that our footballers are going from strength to strength. Our Under 12 and U13 and U19 teams competed in the Coleraine and District League and it was the seniors who were the pick of the bunch last year, recording some excellent results. The boys only narrowly missed out on making the final of that particular competition.
“Three individuals also deserve recognition: Aaron Downes and Ben Moore were selected for Club NI. Ben played in a tournament against Spanish giants, Barcelona and also was named Club NI player of the tournament in this year’s SuperCup NI. Lewis Vance also represented our school in the SuperCup as part of the extremely successful Co Londonderry team who were beaten in the final of the Junior section by the excellent Ghanaian team Right to Dream.
“Our Year 8 and 9 girls football teams competed fiercely in a competition at Mallusk and are showing great promise while Year 14 student Chloe McCarron represented Northern Ireland Under 19s in elite stages of the European Championships and was again last week called up to the senior ladies team.
Away from sport, our students have achieved success and have been involved in numerous initiatives in many other areas.
“We have a thriving Scripture Union group who meet weekly and I think the highlight of their year was a day out surfing at East Strand Portrush in the summer term, which looked great criac, if a bit chilly.
“Mrs Black started up a drama club last year and this year we hope to produce a school show towards the end of the academic year and obviously our Choir under the instruction of Mrs Brown will also feature in that. Two of our pupils, Katelyn Logan and Aaron Kennedy had performing roles with local drama companies professional productions .
“Mrs Barr, runs a craft club three days a week at lunchtime which is extremely popular with the junior girls in particular, while Mrs Nicholl, runs a games club over lunch which provides another activity for the pupils and draws a large crowd in the winter months when it’s too cold and wet to go outside. At this point I would like to put my appreciation on record of the time given by all our staff to make extracurricular sport and indeed other extracurricular activities so accessible and successful.
“David Caldwell, our current Deputy Head Boy, participated in the Rotary Club Youth Leadership Competition last year. David was competing against students from Loreto and Coleraine Grammar and was highly commended on his performance by the panel of Rotarians who interviewed him, who said he was a credit to his school.
“Pupils in our Learning Support Centre hosted their annual MacMillan Coffee morning which was very well attended and raised over £400 for the charity. Another of our LSC students, Matthew Duncan, graduated from Ulster University with a Certificate in Personal Development in Digital and Learning Distribution at the Winter Graduation Ceremony in Coleraine. Matthew’s success proves that there don’t have to be barriers to learning and high achievement. In November our Head Boy and Girl took part in the Remembrance Day ceremony in Coleraine, laying a wreath on behalf of the school community in what was a very proud and poignant moment.
“One of my personal highlights of the past year was seeing the African School’s Choir performing here in Coleraine College last December. We were delighted to host this event which provided the opportunity for a combined Coleraine College, Killowen PS and St John’s PS choir to sing with the African children. The night was a sell out and was a truly uplifting and inspirational evening.
“We continued to engage with the local commununity in many different ways last year: Mr Markey ran a successful collaboration with DH Christie Memorial PS in a joint technology project where our students worked in groups with Christie pupils to design, manufacture and test water powered vehicles. Taster sessions were held where P6 pupils from a number of different schools engaged in Science, Art and Technology workshops in Coleraine College.
“Coleraine College also works in partnership with two local junior football clubs. Bertie Peacock Youths use our grass pitches as their summer training base, while Coleraine Academy FC have also used the facilities here and held their annual end of season awards night in this hall. We want to continue to engage with the local community in Coleraine and have our school playing a key role in the local community. This year our school will also be the base of a new Army Cadet Force Detachment and indeed they met here for the first time this week and we are very pleased to enter into partnership with the ACF in this venture.
Last year also saw the establishment of our Parents Friends and teachers Association which held its inaugural event in June: a Community Fun Day. It was a tremendous success and was well supported on the day and raised over £1700 : money which will be reinvested into improving the educational experience of the young people here.
“The school raised money for a number of charities during the year but the one closest to our hearts was “Adam’s Journey: fighting sarcoma”. A significant amount was donated to this cause following a very successful table quiz in Portrush in July which was orgainsed by Mrs Black.
Last year we also said goodbye to 2 members of staff: Mr Raymond Boyd our IT technician moved on to a permanent post after a relatively short time with us but we were all a bit shocked when a lady who had been with us some considerable time decided to retire at the end of June.
“Mrs Rosemary McAuley was a dedicated, committed, and professional member of staff and above all, an excellent practitioner. Rosemary taught Maths mainly in our LSC but also in mainstream school and she also performed the role of SENCO for many years with extreme diligence and dedication, ensuring that our students who had statements of special educational needs had the best quality provision and that all their educational needs were met to ensure they could reach their potential.
“Last year was a very busy year which has seen our school progress and move forward in many areas and we have all been extremely encouraged to see our largest Year 8 intake in ten years come into school this September and what a great bunch they are. There is a very positive vibe about our school at the minute and we want to sustain it and push on to make things even better and encourage even more young people to make this their first choice destination.
“As a staff we are working exceptionally hard to continue in the pursuit of raising standards and outcomes for all learners and providing a high quality learning experience for the young people who choose to come here, making the school a focal point of the community and positively promoting all these wonderful things about our school to secure an even higher intake this time next year. We are certainly not resting on our laurels.
“To take this school to the next level, however, we need investment to ensure that the buildings and accommodation provide all our learners with an environment that is conducive to promoting learning, with facilities that inspire young people to succeed and have high aspirations, and to equip them with everything they need. For too long this school appears to have been overlooked in terms of significant capital investment. It is true that over the past 18 months money has been spent improving our toilet facilities and giving us a new boiler, which is obviously very welcome, but what we need is a new school which will serve our community not just in terms of education but social provision too.
“We have capacity on this site to build a new school while we continue to teach in this current building without interruption. It is my ultimate goal to see a new school with 21st century facilities to cater for both the vocational and academic pathways that our pupils follow, to have specialist provision for our children with educational needs, for example sensory rooms for children on the autistic spectrum and sports provision that could benefit everyone this side of the river: a 3G pitch and a sports hall could be shared with our neighbouring schools and used by the local community.
“As we move towards our actual Prize Giving, Today, as in previous Prize Days, you will see pupils from every class across the age and ability range being recognised and rewarded for their efforts. The school-home partnership is fundamental to the continued success of our young people and I thank all of you, staff and parents and guardians for all that you do.
“I want to finish by revisiting those three words I spoke about earlier: Pride, Passion, Belief: If you don’t remember anything else from my speech today, remember these 3 words. I am proud of this school; I have a passion to make it, and the young people who come through our doors, a success and I have the belief that working together, we will do so.”