College head urges support for long-awaited new school

The platform Party at Portadown College Speech Day including back row from left, Miss Gillian Gibb, vice principal, Ryan Davison, head boy, Mrs Marion Hammond, senior teacher, Charlotte McClelland, head girl, and Mr Peter Richardson, vice principal. Front from left, Mr Simon Harper, school principal, Mr Ian Jeffers, special guest, and Mr Peter Aiken, cairman of the school govenors. INPT44-205.
The platform Party at Portadown College Speech Day including back row from left, Miss Gillian Gibb, vice principal, Ryan Davison, head boy, Mrs Marion Hammond, senior teacher, Charlotte McClelland, head girl, and Mr Peter Richardson, vice principal. Front from left, Mr Simon Harper, school principal, Mr Ian Jeffers, special guest, and Mr Peter Aiken, cairman of the school govenors. INPT44-205.

Securing the long overdue, new build for Portadown College must be the school’s key priority, principal Simon Harper told the audience at last week’s prize day.

Mr Harper said that with it now “abundantly clear that Portadown College will continue to serve its community in its current guise” there is a “pressing need for movement”.

He said “As a community, we must demand that our young people are treated with parity and are provided with bespoke 21st century facilities.

“Our young people, and this community, need, and deserve, no less. ..The truth of the matter is that such investment must also incorporate our partners in Craigavon Senior High School and Portadown College.

“I urge our politicians, community leaders and parents, who have been loyal supporters throughout, to rally to the call and secure a genuine commitment to provide a new school build.”

Commenting on the students’ achievements, Mr Harper said A-level students had once again excelled with 98 per cent securing three or more A-levels at grades A*-E. A total of 29 per cent of all grades awarded were at A* or A, with a further 34 per cent at B.

Wishing all the leavers every happiness and success in the future, Mr Harper added, “I believe we have sent out some truly exceptional young people who will be magnificent ambassadors for the College and make a massive and positive impact on the world around them.”

At AS Level, well over half of all grades were at A or B, while at GCSE Level, 41 per cent of all grades were at A* or A, while 94 per cent scored seven or more GCSEs at grade A*-C including, English and Mathematics. A number of students also achieved top places in the CCEA Northern Ireland examinations.

Said Mr Harper, “Our students are the most wonderful young people one could hope to meet. They are friendly, good humoured, kind, thoughtful, enormously talented and decent, without ever losing their common touch. They contribute so much to the terrific atmosphere which exists in Portadown College. It remains a genuine pleasure and honour to work both for and with them.”

Mr Harper said he was grateful to the team of teachers “who show such creativity, sensitivity, grit, resilience and unfaltering commitment” and referred to comments made during the inspection last year that ‘no young person slips below the radar at Portadown College’. He ended with an extract from an e-mail which he received from former College student Mark Russell, now chief executive of the Church Army and advisor to the Archbishop of Canterbury. It said, “Portadown College, without question, changed my life. The quality of teaching stretched me, the care and love of the teachers affirmed me, and the ethos of the school enveloped me.

““I hope in a small way my life is a cameo of how Portadown College changes the lives of young people and sets them on a trajectory to make a difference in the world.”