The annual transfer evening at Parkhall Integrated College on Thursday attracted a huge turnout of prospective pupils and their parents.
Almost 600 guests heard the Principal’s address in the Assembly Hall and via video link in the Dining Hall.
Visitors were given the opportunity to view the facilities, hear about the exciting new developments and to meet teachers, support staff and pupils.
The evening began with the school orchestra performing a range of recitals, followed by a DVD outlining what life is like at Parkhall. The DVD is designed to give prospective pupils an insight into both the Year 8 curriculum and wider school life.
In his introduction the Principal, George Beattie emphasised the school mission statement, the aims of the school and the strong pastoral care system and extensive induction programme which is designed to ensure that the transition to post-primary education is as smooth as possible for Year 8 pupils.
He outlined the steady school enrolment of 701 pupils, making the school the sixth biggest controlled secondary school in the NEELB.
In highlighting how well the Year 8 pupils had settled into school life, Mr Beattie emphasised how delighted he was with the school intake last year of 130 pupils from 15 different primary schools.
The school pastoral care system and the out workings of the school mission statement were highlighted as being of a very high standard during the ETI inspection in November 2011.
The provision of Year 10 mentors, who are trained by Childline, for each Year 8 class ensures that the newest additions to the school community have a familiar face to support them at all times. The college also use the services of junior school prefects in Year 10 and they too have an important role to play in helping the younger pupils within the school.
Mr Beattie commended the young people who completed GCSE study last June, many of whom gained excellent GCSE grades A*-C and have progressed to further study and/or employment.
He gave a special mention to a number of pupils who each had obtained 10 GCSE grades A*-C in 2013 and the increasing number of pupils who are obtaining at least 5 A*-C grades. This year the figure had risen to 67% of pupils gaining at least 5 A*-C grades. The college continues to review the Key Stage 4 curriculum to ensure that pupils are provided with the breadth of choice suitable to their needs and aspirations.
The importance of extra curricular activities was highlighted and the range of opportunities to experience educational visits was of particular interest to the young people. Throughout 2012 and 2013, pupils had visited Alton Towers, Dublin, London, the French trip had visited Paris, the football trip visited both Manchester and Barcelona and the ski trip visited the USA at the end of January. 8 pupils had the opportunity to take part in the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics whilst a further 8 pupils had the opportunity to attend events at both the Olympic and Paralympic games. Pupils had also had the opportunity to visit Auschwitz in Poland in conjunction with pupils from St Benedict’s College.
The need to develop mutual respect, tolerance and understanding of others amongst our young people was clearly identified as being a major focus as the College continues the journey towards full approval for Controlled Integrated status.
The College are awaiting confirmation of the awarding of Full Approval following the very successful religious balance figures from the Year 8 intake in September. Mr Beattie then outlined the extensive collaborative and community relations work that was currently taking place within the school at both local and national level.
He praised the young people within the school who had been highlighted by the Inspection team as ‘demonstrating very good behaviour and able to engage confidently in discussion.’ The inspection also highlighted the ‘very good opportunities for pupils to assume positions of responsibility with a maturity and well-developed awareness of the needs of others.’
Mr Beattie outlined the progress that had been made in moving the school through the final planning stages and the awarding of funding for the new school building. Recent meetings with the NEELB, the Minister of Education and Department of Education officials had seemed positive in attempting to clarify any outstanding restrictions or delays to the release of funding.
The impressions of Year 8 pupils, Charlotte and Owen, were well received by the audience, as were the experiences of the current Head Girl, Sarah Bell and Head Boy, Gregory Hewitt.
Parents and prospective pupils were then given a comprehensive guided tour of the school, highlighting the type of activities being undertaken by Year 8 pupils. Displays in practical subjects such as Home Economics, PE, ICT, Technology and Art were extremely popular.
Anyone who missed the Open Evening or has any further questions about the College is invited to contact the Principal on 02894462963 or to make an appointment at the school office to arrange a tour.