Prize Day 2014


There was an air of success at Dunluce School on Thursday as the school, which celebrates its fortieth anniversary this year, held its annual prize day. 
The special guest was Mr John Lewis; Principal of Newtownabbey Community High School – a school that shares a lot in common with Dunluce.

Chair of the Board of Governors, Mrs Frances McCollum, looked back at the children who stepped through the doors in September 1974 and compared them to the current pupils, “The process was very different back then – but it was for the same reason; to educate young people and give them the best possible start in life.”
She went on to praise the efforts of staff and pupils alike, explaining that the prize day was a chance to “celebrate the output of our pupils in terms of academic success but also we recognise the input of a hardworking and dedicated staff without whom the school could not function.”
“This years’ results are proof positive of what has been achieved and I had the privilege of being in school that August Thursday morning as envelopes were opened – at times earplugs would have been invaluable”
Mrs McCollum was keen to give credit to the school Principal, Philip Smyth.  She praised his leadership by example and the way he is “totally immersed in the life of Dunluce.”I

n what is only his second full year as Principal, Philip Smyth, was, understandably, upbeat about the school and the results his pupils are achieving, “As Dunluce school celebrates its fortieth birthday this year what more appropriate gift could the students have given us than the best results recorded in the school’s history with 86% of students gaining at least five GCSEs, or equivalent, at grades C or above.”
“A top line figure of 86% for 5 GCSEs grades A* - C, was in fact 63% higher than last year’s performance and a real increase of 33 percentage points.  Indeed the Northern Ireland average for non-selective schools for 5 GCSE, or equivalent,  grades A* - C stands currently at 67.2%.”
Mr Smyth then gave one further statistic, suggesting that “it is little wonder by the end of the summer that over 93% of pupils have been placed in employment, training or further education.”

One of the reasons for the schools recent success is the range of new courses and programmes open to Dunluce pupils.  Mr Smyth described the impact some of these had on the school, “A new qualification accredited by The Prince’s Trust is ‘Personal  Development and Employability Skills’  and the aim of this qualification is to give young people the chance to work together to achieve goals relating to their education, training and future lives.”
“The launch of Occupational Studies – Enterprising Crafts is designed to introduce the learner to the craft industry.  Pupils are required to research the industry whilst developing their own craft skills. GCSE Hospitality is offered to provide pupils with the core knowledge about the nature and diversity of the hospitality industry and will develop the skills needed for working in it.”  “BTEC Health and Social Care – is a qualification providing a vocational route for those who may be interested in areas such as nursing, teaching, occupational therapy, social work, psychology, housing, sociology and criminology.  It provides an opportunity to develop a broader understanding of the health and social care sector, including factors that affect individuals’ lifestyle choices and their health.”
Mr Smyth didn’t, however, focus on the academic side of the school.  He also reserved praise for extra-curricular and other support programmes that are offered to his pupils.

“During the past year ten of our Year 10 boys took part in a programme organised by The University of Ulster.  The programme was entitled “Aspire to Be” and the intention was to inspire boys to achieve in school and go on to further and higher education.  Our boys visited The University and toured the bio-medical centre, they participated in workshops and also listened to the advice from inspirational speakers.”

He went on to explain how the sport and extra-curricular aspect of the school was “continuing to flourish – these activities have helped to develop lively inquiring minds, together with social, artistic and sporting skills, which will serve pupils well as they pursue various interests and leisure activities into their adult lives.”  Special mention was made of the Under 13 and Under 15 football teams who won their respective divisions in the Coleraine and District league, and the  Year 8 team who won the Coleraine Rugby Football Club shield for the second year in succession.

Mr Smyth reserved special praise for the charitable nature of Dunluce, “I have been heartened and amazed from my arrival to find that one of the main qualities of the school community is to consider those who are less well off.  Sponsored reads, fun runs, silences, the Raft Race and the Causeway Ramble all contribute to those less fortunate than ourselves.  It is not surprising to learn then, following our school ramble to the Causeway, that nearly £185,000 has been raised, to date, by the school to support Cancer Focus NI.” 

This was one of many aspects of the school that impressed guest speaker, John Lewis.  He also spoke warmly of the welcome he had been given by teachers, grounds staff, parents and pupils as he arrived at Dunluce.  He described the feeling of pride and loyalty to the school he felt “in every handshake” as he presented the awards.

“The one thing that can make a difference in education is when the pupils buy in fully and feel loyalty towards their school.  Loyalty is important; loyalty to yourself; loyalty to your friends and family; and loyalty to your school.”
Mr Lewis encouraged the pupils to make the most of their time at school.  Referring to the GCSE results he explained that they were the sort of figures that should be “shouted from the roof tops.” 

He lauded the efforts of Dunluce pupils.  Efforts which led Principal Smyth to conclude by paying  “tribute to all the young people of the school who continue to be the heart, the soul and the very pulse for why we exist.  Today we celebrate their achievements and wish them every good blessing as they progress into adulthood.  I would ask them all to never forget their days at Dunluce, sell the good news of Dunluce, stay loyal to Dunluce and use it fruitfully as your springboard into life.  What you have earned today and the prizes and cups you will collect on stage this morning are the result of honest hard work.”