Headmaster of Dromore High, Mr Ian McConaghy spoke of his desperation for a brand new school and praised the work of former Education Minister John O’Dowd.
At the Sixth Form Celebration of Achievement event he said, “We desperately need a new school building which can accommodate all our pupils and subjects.
“We are also aiming to take our already impressive sporting success to a higher level and an enhancement in the quality of our provision there is a real need also.
“Many of you will have signed our recent petition which was handed to the Speaker of the Assembly in June by former MLA Jonathan Craig. We are at the stage of having procured a site for the new school and I thank Minister O’Dowd for his willingness to purchase this on our behalf.
“Now, with the school developing and growing further still through an extremely exciting phase, we need to get ‘over the line’. Notwithstanding the obvious difficulties at Stormont, I hope the Minister may find the finance to allow us to proceed.
“Our vision for a new school building is for it to be a world class resource for our pupils but also an effective and well used community resource for the whole community.
“This makes sense in many ways, not least financially since school facilities closing every evening from 6pm can hardly be considered a good use of public money. So for all these legitimate reasons, I urge the Department and Minister to complete the process ASAP.”
During the evening Mr McConaghy, paid tribute to the achievements of the 84 Sixth Formers of last year.
Mr McConaghy said, “The breadth of subject choice we offer here is impressive. In total, we offered 27 courses and provided 25 courses which facilitated the pupils in their choices of subjects. It is important to state that we have very high expectations in Dromore High School.
“We have very high expectations of our pupils and of our staff and our aim is to keep on improving the results until they consistently stand out from the crowd as the best.
“As part of this drive, our work, this year will be focusing very firmly on developing within our staff and pupils a growth mind-set. This is a belief that our intelligence is not fixed throughout our lives and can be developed, enhanced and improved.
“The reality of this belief and approach opens up limitless potential, hence our theme for this year which is ‘no limits’. I anticipate this will facilitate our drive for ever better results.”
He went onto say, “Providing this additional ‘wrap around’ care and support requires a comprehensive and effective team. This includes those who supervise the pupils’ study time Mrs Ashleigh Nicholl and in the Learning Resource Centre Mrs Milford and Mrs Roulston.
“Mrs Jennifer Kinkaid provides much needed clerical support to our sixth form team which includes Mrs Carol Scott, the Head of Sixth Form, her team of House Tutors and Mrs Hilary Mitchell, our Director of Sixth form who heads up the entire operation.
“I watched this team at close quarters for the first time, on results day in August, and they operated under pressure with the skills and efficiency of a team who had been running a Sixth Form for much longer.
“All of these staff members deserve our thanks and appreciation for their efforts and, on many occasions, for going the extra mile for the pupils. Parents, you can be assured that your young people are well cared for here.”
In his speech he also said, “Examination outcomes this year A2 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 NI 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 and improving all the while.
“This is because our staff work hard with and for the pupils, reflect on their work and constantly aim to make improvements. 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%
“Some of our courses are delivered in collaboration with other colleges and we are grateful for the input of the lecturers and staff there. The results in these subjects are very good for example Engineering and Health; Social Care delivered in SRC and Creative Media in SERC.
“All of the results at post 16 are very commendable.
“In addition, to pupils who studied here from Year 8 a considerable number of pupils join our Sixth Form from other schools. These pupils are an extremely welcome addition to our Sixth Form.
“These pupils have settled in Dromore High School extremely well, and they bring some new perspectives and a fresh balance to the Sixth Form. We are delighted they chose to study here. Two of them were chosen as Senior Prefects, one of whom was our deputy Head Boy, Mark Downey.
“Mark Downey, our Deputy Head Boy has been offered a place on the Ireland Cycling Track Team. Along with all our other past pupils we wish them well.
“The high hopes we have for our new Upper Sixth year group, who have a very impressive set of AS results upon which to build for A2.
He continued, “The choice of qualifications will suit most children and with the majority of subjects delivered here convenience is a word to be noted.
“Pupils who aspire to higher level apprenticeships can be successfully educated here to 18 as can pupils who aspire to professions such as medicine, dentistry, veterinary and so on.
“This is real progress as far as I am concerned where the make-up of schools reflects society leading. I hope parents find it reassuring that their children have no need to leave Dromore to access a quality education right up to 18.
“I am indebted to the Senior Leadership Team and Mrs Mitchell in particular for building such a successful sixth form in such a short period of time.
“We have admitted 80 pupils, this September which is a most encouraging intake and a vote of confidence by the local community.
“Finally, I would say to our leavers group, you have been with us for a number of years and the staff here have watched you grow up into the young adults you now are. “You have been pupils of Dromore High School for some time. We are proud of you.”
Guest speaaker Mr John Wilkinson, commended the young people of the school for their achievements which he called “remarkable”. He also urged parents in Dromore ‘to make the school their first preference for their children.
He went onto remind pupils to be proud of their school.