St Patrick’s College welcomed a record number of Primary Seven pupils and their parents to last Wednesday’s Open Night.
The young people and their parents received a very warm welcome and were able to get a clear picture of what Post Primary education in St Patrick’s would offer them in September 2014.
The P7 parents and pupils began their evening by viewing a new DVD of the school which was produced by St Patrick’s past pupil, Sean O’Donnell (Timeless Productions).
Mrs Magee then invited Year 13 pupil Ronan Smyth and Year 8 pupil Daria Czubaczynska to talk about their experiences of St Patrick’s College.
Both pupils spoke warmly and confidently, and Daria in particular was able to reassure the P7 pupils that any concerns they might have prior to coming to St Patrick’s would be very quickly allayed in September.
This was followed by a presentation by the Principal, Mrs Catherine Magee, who emphasised the importance of the strong co-operation and support the school receives from its parent body, which Mrs Magee said was central to all that is done in St Patrick’s College.
Pupils coming to St Patrick’s are offered a caring and supportive educational environment, where they are nurtured and encouraged every step of the way.
Mrs Magee highlighted the damage that is being caused as a result of the unregulated transfer system, which she said was unfair to all pupils and certainly making the transition from Primary to Post Primary School fraught with uncertainty and difficulty.
Mrs Magee also asked the question why pupils had to sit a test in order to access an education to which they were all entitled.
St Patrick’s – like all Post Primary Schools – is delivering the Entitlement Framework and is offering all pupils, regardless of their ability, the opportunity to access provision which is appropriate to their needs.
In St Patrick’s, pupils will find a full range of both academic and vocational courses, enabling them to pursue their chosen career pathway.
Increased enrolment is enabling the College to offer a wider range of ‘A’ Level courses, with a number of new academic ‘A’ Levels being delivered for the first time this year.
This is helping the College to offer a full and varied educational programme to all GCSE and post-16 students.
Underpinning all that work is high quality learning and teaching, with a strong emphasis on ensuring that every child reaches his or her potential, both in the classroom and outside through participation in extra-curricular activities.
However, Mrs Magee pointed out that education is about more than academic qualifications and the strength of St Patrick’s staff, both teaching and non-teaching rested in encouraging and helping pupils to develop personal qualities such as self discipline, self worth, respect for others and independence.
One of the school’s main strengths is the very good transition arrangements, particularly from Year 7 to Year 8.
Parents should therefore feel assured that all pupils coming to St Patrick’s would be provided with all the support necessary to make their entry into Post Primary school as seamless as possible.
St Patrick’s is very proud of its Pastoral Care System which is ably supported by the Sixth Form Mentors, who look after the Year 8 pupils and ensure that any issues or difficulties they may be experiencing are dealt with sensitively and effectively.
Following Mrs Magee’s presentation, the parents and pupils were then invited to tour the school to see at first hand the work which goes on throughout all areas of the curriculum.
The groups were guided by members of the School Committee and Senior Prefects who were able to very knowledgeably answer any questions and give a further insight into life in St Patrick’s.
Anyone who missed the Open Night is encouraged to visit the school’s website – www.stpatricksballymena.com – or make contact with the school by telephone on (028) 2564 5059 or (028) 2565 6984 and they will be offered the opportunity to visit the school at a later date.