Portadown College may be in the heart of the town but its students have proved that at least some of them have true country blood running through their veins.
The school’s first ever examination results for GCSE Agriculture and Land Use produced a bumper crop of top grades, with students attaining four out of the five A* grades awarded in Northern Ireland.
They were Matthew Gilmore, who was placed second in Northern Ireland, Alistair Gilpin, third in Northern Ireland, as well as Jack Ogilby and Marcus Hewitt.
Overall, the college had a 100 per cent pass rate at grades A*-B, 21 per cent higher than the Northern Ireland grammar school average results in this subject.
Head of biology David Morris, who has a degree in Agriculture from QUB, was instrumental in bringing the new GCSE to the College immediately after it was introduced by CCEA in 2013.
He said, “We had 17 pupils doing the GCSE last year and 24 this year, and while some are from a farming background others are not. They can do it with or without biology and it’s an interesting subject that teaches pupils a lot of skills.
“It’s great to be able to teach a course that is so applied to the context of the agri-food industry in Northern Ireland. Students really enjoy it and are so engaged with their learning when they can relate what is being taught to familiar situations or future careers.”
In Northern Ireland, 75 per cent of land is used for agriculture with the agri-food industry employing 50,000 people.
Student Marcus Hewitt said he had thoroughly enjoyed the GCSE and may now wish to pursue a career within the agricultural sector.
Meanwhile, Jack Ogilby, who is from an agricultural background, said the course had allowed him to further develop his knowledge and skills. “I believe what I have gained will benefit me in my future employment,” he said.