Prize Day 2018

Click here to see the gallery.

Once again, the Chancellor Guy Hall was packed to capacity to celebrate success at our annual prize day.  This year we were very excited to have Chief Inspector Ian Magee as our guest of honour. He grew up in Antrim and attended Antrim Grammar School.  From there he went to Stranmillis University College from which he graduated in 1989 having been President of the Student Union.  He attended Aldershot joining the Royal Corps of Transport – he was selected to go to Sandhurst Military Academy with its illustrious reputation.  As a soldier he saw service in Bosnia before training in the field of bomb disposal and reached the rank of Captain before leaving the army. His allegiance transferred to another uniform that of the RUC later to become the PSNI where he now holds the rank of Chief Inspector.

Mrs McCollum, Chair of the Board of Governors welcomed everyone to Prize Day. “Today we applaud and congratulate our young people on achievements and successes in the many diverse areas of school life.  We also acknowledge and say thank you to a very dedicated staff who regularly go the extra mile to ensure that the young people of our Dunluce family receive the best education possible – an education suited to individual needs so that each pupil reaches his/her potential and is therefore best positioned to attain hopes, dreams and aspirations.”

Mrs McCollum went on to explain that education should be of paramount importance in the pecking order but today it is being buffeted from all quarters which does not make it easy for teaching staff to deliver the most comprehensive curriculum possible.  She commented: “The staff here in Dunluce strive to not become tunnel visioned in the curriculum but strive to give each young person the best holistic experience possible and for that they deserve our warmest thanks. The results for that dedicated input was obvious in August when Dunluce received the best results in the history of the school.”

Concerning Area Planning she remarked “Earlier this year Education generally got hit with the resurrection of the area plan which has been lying dormant for several years.  Now like so many other schools we are in limbo awaiting help and guidance from the authorities and neither seem to be in plentiful supply.”  Mrs McCollum assured the audience that the staff are fully committed to doing their best for each student and if their world around them is in a state of flux the staff remain fully grounded and focused.  “The future may be a mystery but here in Dunluce we deal with the present.”


Prize day then moved onto the report by the Principal who joined the chair in her warm welcome to Chief Inspector Ian Magee from the PSNI who he has personally known for nearly 30 years. The Principal addressed the audience:

“Schools throughout the Northern Ireland and indeed across the entire United Kingdom have been historically measured solely on their external examination performance.  However, recently I have been encouraged with soundings from OFSTED, the inspection system within England which has finally accepted that there are many facets to a quality education that go alongside final examination results.  Through this address this morning, I intend to evidence that many of these facets to a quality education alongside outstanding results continue to form the back bone of Dunluce School over the last academic year. Indeed, the external examination performance of 2018 witnessed some truly impressive results with 96% of students achieving at least five GCSEs, or equivalent, at grades C or above. This to date will be recorded as the top performance in the history of Dunluce School and too be fair could be a difficult target to beat.”

This superb performance reinforces not only the efforts of all those students with us today but also the efforts of a hard-working and committed staff – both teaching and non-teaching.  To them at this point in the proceedings I offer my sincere thanks and appreciation for a job well done. Not only were our results outstanding, that they not only out-performed local non-selective schools but are more than comparable with results in local Grammar Schools.  Little wonder then, ladies and gentlemen, by the end of the summer that over 93% of pupils have been placed in employment, training or further education.”


The principal then outlined some of the other indicators of a quality education that Dunluce offers. Mention was made of the Personal Development and Employability course, and the links with the Bohill Care Home, the Causeway Coast and Glens Borough council and the National Trust who have supported the delivery of a Community Project unit.  Dunluce also worked with Young Enterprise, the New York hotel and restaurant in Portstewart and hosted the LMC Cookery demonstrations. Pupils also had the opportunity to go to the Somme Heritage Centre in Bangor. Further afield several students got to visit Paris and Euro Disney. The year 12’s got a chance to go on work experience.
Tribute was paid to staff that had left during the year and welcomed new teachers and support assistants.

The Principal reported that Extended Schools funding has been used to establish a nurture room to assist pupils transitioning into the school, breakfast and homework clubs, cinema trips and the Balmoral show.
Extra-curricular activities don’t just focus on sports such as football, rugby, hockey, dance, netball, but others activities such as the Duke of Edinburgh award, Scripture Union, choir, homework club, GCSE revision support classes, debating society, photography, drama and book club.

Attention turned then to the sporting achievements.  The year 8 rugby team won the Coleraine rugby club development tournament comprehensively defeating teams from Coleraine College, Dunclug College and Coleraine Grammar School.

Regarding Netball, the year 9 team and the combined years 11 and 12 team both finished runners up in the League. The Year 8 netball team participated in the annual Coleraine and District netball tournament where Kayleigh Crawford received player of the tournament.

The principal reported that the school continues its amazing and generous charitable journey, raising £2741.45 this year for Cancer Focus NI. Alex Watton single handedly raised £700.50. 


Commenting on the EA review of educational provision in the Coleraine area, the Principal had the following to say.
“As yet, contrary to media coverage, there have been no formal models proposed but I can assure all today that the Governance of our school will only accept change if it is beneficial to our young people and deliver change that has been thoroughly planned out.  Our Governors are fully committed to ensure that any new model for educational delivery within the Coleraine/greater Coleraine area must be ‘future proofed’.

In his closing remarks, the principal paid tribute to all the young people of the school: “Today you see how working hard at school, attending school and being fully part of the life of Dunluce School pays off.  Today we celebrate your achievements.    Each year I ask those assembled that they always remember their days at Dunluce, tell people about Dunluce, stay true to Dunluce and use it fruitfully as your steppingstone into a positive and fruitful career. The prizes and cups you will collect on stage this morning are the result of honest hard work. Once again well done.”

Following the principals address and the distribution of prizes, the guest of honour gave his speech. Chief Inspector Ian Magee has transitioned through teacher training to Chief Inspector to a guest of honour at Dunluce’s prize day - what a journey!  Through his short but very powerful speech, the Chief Inspector outlined what he thinks has allowed him to achieve his potential, and how the audience members could do the same. 

“Sell yourself” is the Chief Inspector’s first success pointer.   He reminded us that in England everyone is falling over themselves to say how incredible they are but in Northern Ireland we are much more hesitant to do this.   He advised
“Nobody else can do it for you.  Have confidence in yourself, and make the organisation believe they cannot succeed without you. “

The Chief Inspector reminded us of the Latin “Carpe diem – seize the day.” He said we should strive to be the best lifelong learner we can be. “Learn to trust yourself – you don’t need anyone else.  Life is short, enjoy yourself, have a laugh – have a blast. “

He advised, “Treat others with respect and dignity no matter who they are.  There is always something you can speak about. Say hello, talk about sport or the weather – win the hearts and minds. Never give up.”
Finally, he noted, “Protect your integrity and reputation. Once lost it cannot be got back.  Honesty is the best policy. Own up when you have made mistakes - listen to your conscience and act on it. This will let you sleep at night.”