Dromore High School Headmaster Mr Ian McConaghy used his speech at the annual prize giving night as an opportunity to call for a solution to the budgetary situation in Northern Ireland as schools face financial peril.
He also made a renewed call for a new building at the school.
He said: “I along with many other principals in Northern Ireland are becoming increasingly worried, perhaps more so than ever before, about the financial situation facing schools. You will have heard this before and perhaps repeatedly but if some agreement cannot be found on the budgetary situation in Northern Ireland, schools and therefore children are going to suffer to much too significant an extent.
“Much of the good work of the last few years in curriculum development for example will be lost and our children will be denied an appropriate education matched to their needs. I encourage all our MLAs who, I have no doubt are doing all they can to reach an agreement, to find a way to conclude the deal and to prioritise education as a key driver for this country thereafter.
“Secondly, you can probably guess I am about to restate the justified claim of the Governors, staff and pupils for a new school building.
“I do so because we cannot let the Education Minister forget that we are still here and still in desperate, perhaps even greater need than before.
“Thank you to everyone who has helped with this in the past especially our MLAs and I urge you all to continue in your efforts along with us until our pupils get what they deserve.
Professor Roy Spence OBE was invited along as the guest speaker for the evening.
Professor Spence, who is Consultant Surgeon at Belfast Trust and Professor of Surgery at Queen’s University, Belfast, joined other invited guests including: MLAs Jonathan Craig, Edwin Poots, Brenda Hale, Basil McCrea and Alderman Paul Rankin; Chairs of our PTA Angela Greenfield and Joanne Moore.
Professor Spence encouraged the pupils to adopt the mantra of President Obama ‘yes we can’ in regard to their academic studies.
Headmaster Mr Ian McConaghy was presiding over his first prize giving night and he praised his predecessor Mr John Wilikinson.
He said: “This is my first Speech Evening as Headmaster of Dromore High School. It is a privilege to be able to deliver this Headmaster’s report for the academic year 2014-2015.
“I would like to acknowledge that I only joined the school after Easter 2015 and that for most of the last year the school was in the excellent keeping of Mr Wilkinson, therefore any credit for the successes of last year should be directed towards the staff concerned and Mr Wilkinson.”
Following tradition Mr McConaghy chose a theme for the evening and decided upon ‘No Limits’.
He said: “We have been considering the potential of pupils to excel in any number of fields but most especially, of course, in academic terms.
“There are, in life generally, too many people who are willing to tell us what we are not capable of doing or achieving. That may well, for some of us, have even been true of our experience in school.
“So our focus this year has been on reminding the pupils of what they can achieve and a number of other important facts such as; how it is possible to develop and enhance our intelligence as we progress through life; it is not fixed, if we use our amazing brains repeatedly, in the best way for study.
“This leads us on to the reality that we can get better at the subjects which we find difficult and thus bring success in these subjects within our grasp.”
The successful GCSE and A-Level exam results were praised by Mr McConaghy.
He said: “The results achieved by pupils in this school last year are already evidence of pupils aiming high and raising their expectations.
“I am delighted to report that at key stage 4 the percentage of pupils achieving 5 GCSEs at A*-C increased by11% and when English and Maths is included by 4%.
“The all-important English and Maths results were excellent and within the wide and varied suite of subjects offered here there were tremendous results in many.”
He continued: “Turning to examination outcomes this year at A2 level results have bettered the previous two years and it is clear to me that Sixth form at Dromore High School has developed and matured very quickly into a highly effective and highly successful place to study post 16.
“The results here exceed N.I. Averages in a significant number of subjects and in our headline statistics of 3A*-C.
“Our pupils are performing very well at post 16 level.
“This is because our staff work hard with and for the pupils, reflect on their work and constantly aim to make improvements.
“The percentage of students achieving 3A*- C increased 9% on the previous year. The subject entry pass rate at A*-A was 30%.
The subject entry pass rate at A*-B was 48%. The subject entry pass rate at A*-C 76%.”