PRINCIPAL John Lewis welcomed pupils, staff, parents and governors to Newtownabbey Community High School’s annual Prize Day.
Special guest at the event was former Army officer Bryan Dunlop, who served with the Gurkhas for 10 years before going on to work in Nepal and Africa.
He now runs a training company and got involved with the school last year after carrying out staff training and working with groups of senior pupils on issues such as motivation and aspiration.
Using ‘Celebrating Success’ as the theme of his speech, Mr Lewis reflected on the achievements of the 2011/12 academic year - one of the most successful in the school’s history, praising pupils for achieving the best ever set of results in Key Stage 3 and 4 examinations.
“The percentage achieving five or more GCSEs at grades A*-C increased to 55 per cent, 17 per cent better than our previous best in 2010,” he explained.
“The Education and Training Inspectorate (ETI) have categorised this performance as ‘well above the average’ for similar schools.”
The Principal pointed to the school’s long term objectives - to be a consistently high achieving, family orientated school, respected by its local community, where all work together to ensure success; and to be a strong, influential and equal partner in any plan proposed by NEELB in the current Area Planning process - one which could involve the merger of several local schools.
“We are determined to be a part of a long term educational solution, in which our pupils, staff and local community will be to the fore and have appropriate consideration and representation,” he stressed.
Mr Lewis outlined the ongoing work to improve the school based on recommendations made by the ETI following the last standard inspection in 2010, and his confidence that his staff team have “the appropriate balance of experience and skill to take forward the crucial work of the school.”
Adding that the school is committed to promoting high quality teaching and high level learning, he commented: “We have been praised for improving the quality of learning and teaching over the last two years, with three quarters of the lessons observed during the follow up inspection being ‘good or better’. Congratulations must go to our teachers for the professional way they prepare and deliver their lessons.
“Work will continue this year to achieve our long term goals.
“The successful milestones of 2012 are being built upon and the school is confident that the results next year will be every bit as good if not better than those of this year. The ambition of being declared ‘good’ by ETI in 2013 is a realistic and attainable one. Because of these anticipated sustained improvements, I am absolutely confident that the school will be well placed to take its equal part in any proposed future changes.”
Concluding his speech, Mr Lewis thanked the school’s leadership team, teachers, support staff, governors, parents and educational partners for their hard work, dedication and support over the past 12 months
“I am very are proud of the work that goes on throughout Newtownabbey Community High, at every level and in every way. This is a school that is thriving on its strong relationships and reaping the rewards of its high expectations. In seeking the best possible achievement for all of its pupils it never loses sight of its caring, family ethos, within which mutual respect remains the core value,” he said.