Open Nights 2020

Mr Donaldson, on behalf of the staff and governors of Cullybackey College, warmly welcomed over 700 prospective parents and pupils to our annual Open Nights on Monday 20th and Tuesday 21st January. He reassured the audience that he as a parent of three post primary level pupils understood the feelings both parents and pupils were experiencing and hoped that the evening would give them all a taste of what our school is really like. Given the number of post-primary schools in the Ballymena area for parents and pupils to choose from, Mr Donaldson encouraged parents to find the school which best suited their children and where they would be happiest.

As a parent, why should you consider Cullybackey College?

  1. Cullybackey College has a positive reputation within the Ballymena area. Currently we are over our capacity, and this growth reflects the hard work, time and commitment the staff have invested in the pupils under their care.
  2. Cullybackey College is an ideal sized school of 700 pupils. Staff will get to know your child really well as individuals, and will be able to identify their strengths and talents to guide them. We are offer a comprehensive range of subjects tailored to your son or daughter’s needs, as well as a range of extra-curricular activities for your child to take part in, all of which can be found in the prospectus.
  3. Cullybackey College students have had a high degree of success both at GCSE and A-Level with which we were delighted with the achievements of our young people, enabling them to progress to further study, university or employment. We have a large Sixth Form offering a wide range of academic and vocational A-Levels, which means your son or daughter can join us in Year 8 and stay for 7 years.
  4. The Inspectorate referred to the pastoral care offered at Cullybackey College as ‘outstanding.’ Year 8 pupils participate in a highly successful induction programme, part of which involves an overnight stay at Cultra aimed at developing friendships and building confidence as well as having good fun.
  5. Cullybackey College is a school which has a warm, friendly and unique atmosphere – that feeling you get whenever you walk into the building, how you are met and greeted, how the staff and pupils engage with you and each other, something which was commented on by a number of our Primary School Principals when they visited us for our annual IN-O-V8 event.
  6. Staff set high expectations for each child; the bar is set high – in terms of behaviour, in terms of respect for others and in terms of work ethic in order for each child to excel and achieve their full potential.

Mr Donaldson referred to the Department of Education’s plans for our new school to be built with a scheduled opening date of August 2024 and how it highlights their long term confidence in the College’s capacity to provide a high standard of education for the young people of the area. The current ongoing building work taking place will mean, on completion, that Cullybackey College will be the only school in the area that will possess a lift, ensuring disabled access to all floors.

Mr Donaldson invited two current students to speak to the audience. Hollie Smyth from Year 13 recalled her time touring the different schools in the area when she was in primary 7 and then beginning Year 8. She described it as the most nerve wracking, yet exciting step she ever had to take. She explained her success at GCSE and happiness at school was thanks to the pupils and staff at Cullybackey, who made her feel very welcome and supported throughout her studies. Hollie spoke to the visiting pupils and said “just remember, no matter what school you end up going to, just try your very best and you will do well.”

Harvey White, a pupil in 8A1 who attended Buick Memorial Primary School, spoke about his memories of visiting Cullybackey College for the first time at last year’s Open Nights. “I really enjoyed seeing around the school and can remember learning about a crime scene in science and eating freshly made scones in Home Economics. You are all in for a treat tonight!”

He told prospective pupils about the P7 day in June, where pupils who will be transferring get to visit the school, and create different things in various subjects and ultimately meet their new class mates. He reassured them that the school didn’t seem so big then. Harvey told the pupils that he found it really helpful that the Year 8s were the only pupils here on the first day in September, and how much he enjoyed the overnight residential trip to Cultra and all the extra-curricular clubs available, particularly rugby and football.

Mr Donaldson concluded by assuring the parents that Cullybackey College is a school where their child will be treated fairly, where we will seek to ensure they are happy and where they will learn. Finally speaking to the pupils he said, “I want you to know that it WILL work out and this time next year you WILL be happy and you WILL be settled in your new school – and I’ll let you into a little secret – I hope that new school is Cullybackey College.”