Following the College’s highly successful P7 INOV8 Science and Technology morning on Friday 13th January which saw over 790 Primary School pupils, together with their P7 teachers and Principals, visit Cullybackey College, the school again threw open its doors for its Open Evenings on Monday 16th and Tuesday 17th January with approximately 1000 pupils and parents attending in spite of the challenging weather, reflecting the huge interest there is in the College.
Mr Donaldson, the College Principal, offered a warm welcome to all the visiting pupils and parents and extended a special welcome to those who were visiting the school for the first time. He said that the College has a highly positive reputation within the local area, leading to the College exceeding its capacity of 700. He stated this was reflective of the hard work, time and commitment the staff have invested in the pupils under their care.
Mr Donaldson suggested the College was an ideal sized school; large enough to ensure pupils are provided with breadth and variety of provision, but not so big that they feel overwhelmed. The school’s extensive extra-curricular provision was highlighted as an ideal means of helping the pupils to acquire new interests and skills outside the classroom as well as being an ideal opportunity to make new friends.
In addition, the high standard of education was referred to with pupils achieving considerable success at both GCSE and A-Level with percentage pass rates above the Northern Ireland average. In addition, Mr Donaldson indicated that the growth in Sixth Form, offering a wide range of both academic and vocational A-Levels, means that young people can commit to 7 years at the College, completing A-Levels before going on to University, FE or employment.
Attention was drawn to the warm, friendly atmosphere coupled with the pastoral care provision which has been deemed ‘Outstanding’ by the Education Training Inspectorate. In such a climate pupils are encouraged to strive for the highest possible standards in terms of behaviour, in terms of respect for others and in terms of work ethic.
Reference was also made to the planning currently in place to provide a brand new school, testimony to the long term confidence the Department of Education has in Cullybackey College.
At this point Mr Donaldson took the opportunity to introduce the visitors to two Cullybackey College pupils; Matthew from Year 8 and Ellie from Year 14, both of whom were keen to share their experiences of the school. Matthew spoke with great confidence which belied his young age he also stated how the school’s well-tested induction programme had enabled him to settle into ‘big school’ smoothly.
Ellie, the College’s Head Girl, spoke with great maturity about her time at school. She acknowledged how, for her, it felt like being part of a family. She spoke fondly about her teachers and recognised the breadth of opportunities the school had afforded her to learn and grow as a person.
Parents and pupils were subsequently provided with a guided tour of all the College facilities by sixth form guides. This proved hugely popular as the parents commented on the smooth movement around the building, how informative and engaging their guides were, and the benefits of getting to see all the classrooms in action and the benefit this was to the young pupils.
Parents and children were given an extensive tour of the College during which time they had complete access to all Departments, witnessing first-hand a wide range of engaging, interactive, educational activities. Each Department showcased their many strengths with both teachers and pupils keen to engage with their visitors.
The evening concluded with light refreshments in the College canteen.