The principal of Coleraine Grammar School welcomed guests to their annual prize day.
Dr Carruthers said: “I would like to begin with the staffing changes this year, followed by details of examination results and then pupils and I will speak about some extra-curricula activities.
“Both permanent teachers and temporary teachers left the staff on August 31. Mrs Anne Bolton and Miss Kathryn Duff were both languages teachers. Mrs Bolton returned as a teacher to CHS in 2001, where she was previously a pupil and taught French, Spanish and Italian and contributed much to careers guidance. Mrs Bolton was on a career break in recent years, devoting her time to her young family. Miss Duff joined the staff of CAI in 2013 teaching French and Spanish and enthusiastically engaging in rowing, especially in the last two years with girls flourishing at the club. Kathryn has joined the staff at Campbell College and we wish her every success
“Mrs Karen Hughes taught biology in CHS from 2004, and she has now also decided
to devote her time to her young family. Her empathetic approach, along with her quick-witted sense of honour, resulted in pupils warming to her immediately. As well
as her significant contribution to the Biology Department, Karen also assisted with
the in-school training of the Duke of Edinburgh Silver Award Scheme.
“The English Department and the Rugby Club enjoyed the company of Mr Stephen
Douglas for four years during which time he brought humour to the classroom,
experience and expertise to the rugby field and sartorial style to the male staff. We
wish Stephen well as he continues his career in Merchiston College, Edinburgh. Mrs Louise Quigg first taught in CAI in 2010, acted twice as Head of History and
rejoined the staff in recent years. An immensely gifted person and excellent
classroom teacher, Louise is a loss to our school, but is a gain for the History Department at Thornhill College, which is her old school.
“Mrs Cathy Davidson came to CHS in 1994 to teach English and take charge of school productions. Her sharp mind and fine intellect were always evident in her
teaching of English Literature and she was Head of Drama in both CHS and CGS. Her legacy lies with the long list of school productions in the High School from I Have
Five Sisters in 1994 to Steel Magnolias in 2013 and including Oliver, My Fair Lady
and 42 nd Street along with many others over nearly twenty years. Many thanks to
Mrs Davidson for her dedication and the opportunities she gave to so many pupils of
both CHS and CAI in plays and musicals, and we wish her a long and happy retirement.
“Mr Mark Irwin joined the staff of CAI in 1998 straight from Stranmillis College, was
Head of Technology in Inst for fifteen years and in CGS for just over a year. He
leaves an outstanding legacy in terms of technology examination results, know-how
and competition success. Under his leadership a team of Inst pupils became Formula One In Schools World Champions in 2006 in Melbourne, and defended their title in 2007 in Kuala Lumpur. Outside the classroom, Mark coached rugby successfully for many years and led and developed school Summer Camp for several generations of pupils, an enriching experience which has influenced the school career of hundreds of pupils.
“Following Mr Irwin’s departure, Mrs Lynda Somerville joined us from Cambridge
House to lead the Technology Department. Mrs Somerville has already shown the
insight needed to maintain and enhance this traditionally strong subject. We also wish to thank Mr Craig Kane, Miss Naomi Montgomery, Mr James Murphy
and Mr Andrew Park for their help as temporary teachers and Mrs Lulu Kane for her
assistance as IT Technician in both CHS and CGS for nine years.
“In August, when we returned to school, we were delighted with both the GCSE and A
Level results. At GCSE 63 pupils attained at least 5A* or A grades, 40 achieved at
least 7A* or A grades and 11 pupils, Anna Jinks, Erin Gibson, Kirsty Thompson, Matthew Murchison, Conor Wisener, Josh Conkey, Andrew Irwin, Natasha Marshall,
Junaid Ashgar, David Sherrard and David Tennant, achieved 10A* or A grades. The
top achieving student was Anna Jinks, with 9A*s and 1A grade in full course GCSE
subjects. This outstanding collection of grades is a testament to the pupils’ hard
work and dedication across the two years of their GCSE studies and they should be commended for their excellent marks.
“The names mentioned are a small sample of the students who performed impressively in their exams. Many subjects deserve great credit both for the high number of top grades and very low number of grades below a grade C. English, maths, the sciences, art and IT all performed strongly as did vocational subjects such as MVRUS and Journalism. Our headline percentages for pupils achieving 5 and 7 A*-C compare very favourably with competitor schools when you compare like with like.
“For example, 63 of the 237 pupils in the GCSE cohort achieved an AQE score at 11+
of 105 or more, and of these 63, 98% achieved 5A*-C and 97% achieved 7A*-C. These figures match our competitor schools where all pupils have an AQE score of 105 or more and are significantly ahead of the NI average for grammar schools.
This is a message we need to emphasis – bright pupils do very, very well at this
school. Our philosophy is to push pupils to achieve their best, monitor their progress closely and intervene, when necessary. An audience which consists of prize winners and their families already know this, but the wider public, especially primary school parents, should know that we add considerable value to all our pupils, and the figures show consistently that academically able pupils perform just as well and better at Coleraine Grammar as they do at competitor schools.
“In the A-Level examinations 80% of pupils in Year 14 achieved 3 A*-C grades, with
reflects the hard work and dedication of both pupils and staff in the school. 36 pupils were awarded at least three A grades which is an outstanding number of high achieving students. Again these figures are above the NI average for grammar
schools and again compare favourably with competitor schools.
“The top achieving student was Grace Richmond, who achieved 4 A* grades in
Biology, Chemistry, Maths and RE. She will now take up her place for Medicine at
QUB. Two others achieved 3 A* grades and 1 A: Ruth Mullan and Jordan Kilgore,
both of whom will now go on to study Medicine as well; Ruth at Queens University
and Jordan at Newcastle University. In addition, Charlotte Archer, who is going to
Keele University, Kit Hutchinson, heading to Newcastle University are also studying
“Other successes included Head Girl, Grace Carson, who was also delighted with her
3 A*s in French, German and RE. Grace will now read Modern and Medieval Languages at Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge University. Head Boy, Zachary Hutchinson achieved 2A*s and 1 A grade which allows him to accept his place at St Andrew’s University to study Divinity.
“Emma McCaughern, who achieved 2A*s and 1A in English, Maths and Politics takes
up her place at Balliol College, Oxford to study PPE. Hannah Scott achieved 1A*
and 2As in Economics, English Literature and Maths. She is now at Princeton University taking up her rowing scholarship and studying Economics. Many other
pupils attained excellent grades and are embarking upon courses such as Law, Dentistry, Veterinary and Pharmacy. Some examples include, Faith Moore, Koren
Ferguson, Sasha Richardson, Robbie Bellingham, Sophie Jinks, Imogen Wilson,
Natasha Brownlee, Rebekah Douglas, Katherine Gawne, Christopher Hamilton, Rosanna Johnston, Greg Kelly and Charlotte Smyth, to name but a few.
“Fifteen other pupils gained at least 2A*s grades in their results and 94 pupils
achieved at least one A* or A grade. 55% of pupils were awarded 3 grades A*-B and
across the year group, 195 of all the grades awarded were either an A* or A.
Across the school, 13 different departments can celebrate 100% of pupils achieving
A*-C grades. The pupils deserve to be congratulated for their success and we look forward to seeing how they progress at university and then in their chosen career
“When we compare like with like at GCSE and consider all the A-Level results, our
school exceeds the NI Grammar School average and compares very favourably with
competitor schools. There were also highlights of achievement in Year 13. Ten pupils attained their A2 Maths in on year whilst also studying their other AS subjects. These pupils were Ancel Bell, Chloe Dalzell, Adam Kennedy, Scott Kennedy, Michael McLean, Ross Moore, James Richmond, Alexander Scott, Michael Simpson and Anna Wallace. Most notably, Ancel and Michael achieved A*s, and Chloe, Scott, Ross, James and Anna achieved A grades.
“In Year 13 as a whole, there were 30 pupils who achieved 2 A grades or better,
eleven pupils achieved 3 A grades or better and Chloe Dalzell achieved 3 A grades
at AS and an A in A2 Maths. Ancel Bell achieved 3 As at AS and an A* in A2 Maths.
There were four pupils awarded 4 A grades at AS: Calum Beggs, Ellen Davis, Holly
Woodhead and Anna Wallace. Anna not only achieved 4 A grades at AS, but also an A in A2 Maths.
“Results are a school’s hard currency, but personal development is vitally important,
and we have continued to offer opportunities in 13 sports and 26 clubs and societies,
with educational trips in Ireland, Britain and Europe.
Music is a real strength in our school with five choirs, two orchestras, a swing band
and many other ensembles. The Annual Carol Service in St Patrick’s and the Spring
Concert, both CHS traditions, are two highlights of the CGS school year with
participation by boys increasing year-on-year. Just this week we announced auditions for our school play later this year and we look forward to our production of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ next term.
The cricket club had another successful season fielding five teams on a regular basis
with the 1 st XI reaching the quarter final of the Schools’ Cup. Along the way they
defeated Ballymena Academy twice during the course of the season. In representative terms, Charlie Carmichael and Matthew Hutchinson were selected for North West teams and Varun Chopra and Marcus Poskitt both represented Ulster and Ireland.
The 2016/17 hockey season saw a major change in the structure of girls’ hockey
with the introduction of the Ulster Super League as a province-wide competition. We
made a good beginning to the campaign but fared much better in the more familiar
Derry and Antrim League, securing third position. In a season full of injuries, the 1 st XI were unfortunate to draw the Super League champions in the Schools’ Cup, but
the team produced an excellent performance to lose by just one goal. There is strength in depth in the club with seven competitive teams regularly playing from U13
to 1 st XI level.
The Rowing Club is flourishing in school under the leadership of coach Jeremy
Johnston and his many volunteer coaches and helpers, without whom the current
level of success would not be possible.
Former pupils’ fundraising along with sponsorship from local businesses meant the
club could purchase two new boats last year, and the need for them is very clear
given the number of pupils competing. Out of well over one hundred pupils rowing in school, over fifty travelled regularly to events throughout Ireland. The regatta season was particularly successful.
“In the Irish Schools’ Championship, we were placed 13 out of 42 schools, the highest
placed Northern Ireland school. Hugh Moore was placed 4/32 in the U23 single
scull, the girls’ junior eight became Irish champions, Rachel Bradley won the junior
scull and Rachel and Molly Curry won the junior double scull. The success, participation and victories which flowed from this were incredible.
“The Coleraine Grammar School Friends’ Association, the High School Old Girls’, the
Inst Old Boys’ Association and COBRA have provided considerable financial and
practical support throughout the year in a wide variety of school activities to help
maintain and enhance our provision.
“It has been a busy and successful year. As the Inspection Report stated, we have
undertaken significant and effective work to establish a solid foundation on which to
build leadership and management, the senior leadership has prioritised appropriately, and given due attention to creating a shared vision and values for the
new school community.
“From this endorsement and the successes and achievements pupils and I have
described today, we can take the courage and confidence to continue to build a school to provide high quality education and opportunities for the pupils of the
“Finally, I would like sincerely to thank the teaching staff for all they contribute to the academic and extra-curricular life of our school. Teaching in the modern context is a challenging profession. When the amount of change our staff has experienced, and the continuing stress of operating the split site are added, it takes dedicated professionals to deliver for the pupils and parents and the governors and I are grateful.”