Pupils ‘forced to leave’ give backing to new sixth form centre
PUPILS who have to leave Markethill High School this year have voiced their support for the school’s campaign for a new building and sixth form centre.
A total of 105 Year 12 pupils will leave the school in June, even though most of them would prefer to continue their education there.
Markethill High, which can only cater for pupils up to the age of 16, has been campaigning for a new school and sixth firm since the Department of Education launched the Post Primary Area Plans. The plnas look at the make-up of schools in all areas.
Last week, the Minister John O’Dowd confirmed he was currently considering the response to the draft area plan from the Southern Education and Library Board (SELB) and would “hope to make a decision on the way ahead in the coming weeks”.
Head girl Laura Marshall, who plans to continue her education elsewhere, said the experience she had gained at Markethill High School would make it difficult for her to say goodbye. “My time at Markethill High School has been brilliant. It is safe to say I have enjoyed coming to school every day. Numerous unforgettable memories have been made during my time here, from meeting new friends to taking part in our school productions,” she said.
The teenager, who was awarded the title of Northern Ireland’s Young Entrepreneur of the Future, added, “Markethill High School has opened so many doors for me, both socially and academically.
“Everyone has been so welcoming, supportive and approachable. I have undoubtedly lived by the school’s motto ‘Believe To Achieve’ and I believe the school can achieve a sixth form provision for future pupils.”
Head boy Ryan Higgins, who will also leave Markethill to continue his education, echoed Laura’s sentiments, saying the school offers a top quality education for all of the pupils.
He said, “I will look back on my time at Markethill High School with great pride - pride that I went to and played a key role in such a great school.
“It is a school that has top quality teachers and students, a school which brings out the best in its students and which has achieved on so many different levels.
“The school is the heartbeat of the community in Markethill and pupils would love to stay on to continue their studies here.”
James Boyd, a Year 12 pupil, said his time at the school has served him very well. “There is a wide array of fine teachers who are always ready to help you. I have made many friends with whom I will stay in contact forever. I would love to see the school getting a new building and sixth form provision,” he said.
Principal James Maxwell said, “Well over 80 per cent of our parents have indicated that they want a sixth form here.
“More than two thirds of our pupils would want to stay here. And should there be sixth form, there would be mobility here at post-16 level...mobility from a wide catchment area including towns and villages. ... Fifty pupils in lower sixth and a further fifty in upper sixth would make us viable, and that is eminently achievable and more.”
A petition of support for the campaign, containing 4,485 signatures, has already been handed over to the Southern Education and Library Board.
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Sunday 19 May 2013
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