Chairman’s tribute after record results

Top GCSE award winners, Portadown Campus, at  the Craigavon Senior High School prize day from left, Connor McCleery, Megan Fiddes, Amylee Parr and Manus Wong. INPT48-220.
Top GCSE award winners, Portadown Campus, at the Craigavon Senior High School prize day from left, Connor McCleery, Megan Fiddes, Amylee Parr and Manus Wong. INPT48-220.

The chairman of the board of governors at Craigavon Senior High School has paid tribute to a “remarkable achievement” after the school achieved its best ever set of GCSE results.

Addressing the school’s prize day last week, Mr Tom McKay saluted acting principal Eileen Cousins and the rest of her staff.

“I am very happy to report to you that under its present leadership last year saw the school’s best ever set of GCSE results. These record-breaking results are a remarkable achievement and I am sure you will agree with me that Mrs Cousins and our hard working, totally dedicated teaching staff deserve our highest commendation,” said Mr McKay.

“To-day sees our 21st prize-giving ceremony. Having been involved from the very beginning I find it difficult to believe that we are now in Craigavon Senior High School’s 21st year. On September 1, 1995 the school opened its doors for the first time, ending the system whereby those 14-year-olds not selected for grammar school transferred from their junior high schools into the adult environment of the FE College. It had been decided, quite rightly, that there was a need for a KS4 school that would give our young people access to the type of school environment and ethos being enjoyed by other young people throughout Northern Ireland.”

Mr McKay expressed concern about the standard of accommodation in the school’s Lurgan campus.

“With only two year groups, fluctuating pupil numbers and operating on a split site it was always going to be a challenge to make the school a success. In addition there were the concerns surrounding the inadequacy of the accommodation, particularly on the Lurgan campus.

“Our fears were alleviated to some extent by the understanding that the accommodation in Lurgan was only a temporary measure and that more permanent accommodation would be provided as the school developed. It was also the case that additional funding was made available to help offset the split site running costs.

“Twenty years later the accommodation on the Lurgan Campus remains inadequate, with the campus so lacking in basic facilities that it can be described as ‘unfit for purpose’. The split site funding has also been reduced to a level where it no longer covers the additional costs.

“On top of all this, with the impact of austerity generally on the education budget has led to further reductions in funding which has placed this school in a critical financial situation. A situation from which the Education Authority has declared “No recovery is possible”.

“It must be made clear however that this is a result of the situation in which we have to operate and not the fault of anyone connected with the school. Both the Education Authority and the Department of Education have stated that these financial problems are not attributable to a lack of proper Governance or to the mismanagement of the school.

“A 21st birthday has always recognised as a special and significant milestone in one’s life. A time when one was considered to have overcome the development issues associated with growing up. Sadly that is not the case with this school and a solution needs to be found that will benefit all children.”

Mrs Cousins meanwhile said, “With a total of 2,436 entries 319 candidates sat GCSE examinations this summer.

“Almost 61 per cent of the cohort achieved five or more GCSE passes at A*-C grades while 94 per cent of the 90 pupils who sat nine GCSEs achieved five or more passes at A*- C . This year’s results also saw a significant increase in the number of pupils securing at least five GCSE passes including English and maths. I am delighted to report a 10 per cent increase from last year.

“This year’s cohort of examination candidates consisted of an increased number of pupils for whom English is not their first language and I am particularly impressed with the achievements of these candidates, a number of whom sat GCSE examinations in traditional subjects alongside of taking an extra GCSE in their native tongue.

“The top four achievers this year, including the very top grades of A* and A grades are: Manus Wong , Megan Fiddes, Conor McCleery and Amy-lee Parr.”