Education Minister John O’Dowd has been told of the need for further investment at St Killian’s College to benefit pupils and wider community.
On his first visit to the college, the minister was welcomed by principal Jonny Brady; Sean Doherty vice-chair of the Board of Governors; head boy Ronan McIlwaine and Marianne O’Toole the head girl.
After a discussion about the historic castle building, he went on a tour of the college, accompanied by the principal, vice-chair of the board of governors and the two vice-principals Eileen McKay and Padraig McIlwaine. During the tour he saw students who were engaged in their learning and being prepared for life beyond school.
The minister commented upon the outstanding ETI report that the college had received in November after only two and a half years in existence. He noted that it was evident in what he saw that the students of St Killian’s have a belief in their ability to succeed, are confident, work well with each other and have excellent independent learning skills.
He commented upon the great unity of purpose among the students and staff at the college.
Mr O’Dowd also saw first hand the delivery of education at St Killian’s College when he visited a number of curricular departments, including Spanish and PE.
Principal Jonny Brady said: ‘This is further fantastic recognition of the work of the college in only its third year and is a great credit to the students, their parents and our staff.”
Throughout the visit the minister was impressed by the way in which the college had adapted its buildings to deliver high quality education.
However, the principal stressed the need for the Department to further invest in the college which would not only benefit the students but could be used as a hub for both community education and sporting facilities.
At present the college has a number of bids with the Department of Education to enhance the college facilities and it is expected that there will be a significant announcement to that effect in the near future, in line with the School Enhancement Programme announced in January of this year.
Mr O’Dowd commented on the positive impact that St Killian’s has had on ensuring a seamless transition between primary and post-primary education.
This was reinforced when he enjoyed refreshments with the local feeder primary school principals who underlined the partnership that exists between St Killian’s and themselves.
The college is presently working alongside four of its primary partners to promote science skills between the two phases of education. This includes sharing good practice between the primary school teachers and St Killian’s Science department as well as using video conferencing and IT to link and learn with each other. This will further create a true learning community among the schools in the Glens and East Antrim allowing not only the students to develop their skills but create real partnership between primary and post primary.
Mr O’Dowd also said that he believed that St Killian’s was a great example of how education should be delivered, where young people regardless of ability or creed were educated with high expectations and where they quite obviously achieved. He congratulated the governors, staff, parents and students who have all contributed to the school’s success and wished the whole school community every success in the future. He believes that the model of schooling that the Glens and the East Antrim have is rightly the envy of all.