Outstanding teaching on menu at Slemish College

Visitor Karina takes part in an experiment with students Erin and Jessica in the Science department during the Slemish College Open Night. INBT 06-111JC
Visitor Karina takes part in an experiment with students Erin and Jessica in the Science department during the Slemish College Open Night. INBT 06-111JC

Visitors to Slemish College last Wednesday and Thursday experienced a flavour of what it takes to achieve the Inspectorate’s designation of ‘outstanding’ - and that wasn’t just in the Home Economics department!

With record numbers of over 1500 Primary 6 and 7 students, the open nights have been hailed as the most successful ever.

Renowned for ‘putting on a show’ the staff and students of Slemish didn’t fail to impress.

With life-sized Anderson Shelters in the History Department, 3-D laser cutting in the Technology Workshops, huge Bedouin tents in the Religious Education Department and an Epic journey through the Canons of English Literature, the creative and innovative teaching strategies referred to as ‘Cutting Edge’ by the Education and Training Inspectorate were clearly evident.

In his address, Principal Dr Paul McHugh welcomed guests, explaining the Bi-lateral status of the school which has a separate Grammar and an All-Ability stream.

He allayed the fears of the young people, saying that no matter what their grade or which entrance route they may take, Slemish will always welcome children of all traditions and abilities.

He stated, “We are proud of our designation because we have consistently proven that children of all abilities can be educated together under the same roof, perhaps not in the same class, but unquestionably in the same school.

“We insist on the highest standards of behaviour, uniform, punctuality and attendance, all of which contribute to our aim of ensuring that our young people achieve excellence in education for all.

“Indeed high standards and expectations pervade all that we do. Each year we send students to the top universities in the UK and Ireland, including Trinity and Cambridge.

“Some of them had top grades in the transfer test, but some of them didn’t.

“Hard work delivers results and we’ll help you work hard and achieve the best you can.”

He outlined the College’s most recent Academic Achievements, saying, “At GCSE 86% of our students last year left with 5 or more GCSE’s at Grade A*-C, that is 24 percentage points above the average for a school of our type.

“At A-level our results exceed the average for schools of our type, and with 81% A-levels graded at A*- C, Slemish students are exceeding the achievement of students in many of Northern Ireland’s most prestigious Grammar schools.”

He also outlined the latest link with Eton College that will see Slemish students taking part in their summer school for prospective Oxbridge candidates.

Dr McHugh paid tribute to the “high calibre” of his colleagues before parents began their tour, allowing them to see for themselves an unsurpassed exhibition of teaching and learning at its very best.

Dr McHugh encouraged guests to question the students whom he described as the “true ambassadors of Slemish College.”

Indeed they were only too delighted to be teaching the visitors how to programme remote-controlled cars round tracks in ICT or to be instructing them about what to do in the event of an air raid.

Dr McHugh invited students who had a “real desire to learn” saying, “If you want to be an outstanding pupil, Slemish College is the place for you. Everyone matters here and the way we do things matters.”

In addition to academic provision, the college’s extensive range of extra-curricular activities encompassing Sporting, Cultural, Spiritual and Subject-Based activities were also on display throughout the college.

Dr McHugh revealed that exciting new plans for a second Sports Hall were at an advanced stage with the Department of Education and work is to commence in the near future.

As always, it wasn’t just the Principal’s address that the Primary students wanted to see.

This year, students participated in a vast array of activities throughout the classrooms from making dresses to water mountains, all designed to not only let them get a taster for learning as it should be, but to whet their appetites and encourage them to value a truly outstanding educational experience.

If you wish to receive further information about Slemish College, see website for details www.slemishcollege.org.uk