Principal in call to expand New-Bridge enrolment

NEW-Bridge Integrated College principal, Mrs Anne Anderson, has called on the Education Minister to approve the school’s application for an extension to the school’s enrolment limits.

She was speaking at the school’s annual senior prize day, held to celebrate the amazing achievements of the school’s GCSE and A Level students.

Mrs Anderson said that the school had made the request to John O’Dowd’s department as many pupils wished to stay on at the end of Year 12.

“As a school we understand that there is an urgent need to increase the number of places available in our own sixth form, as so many of our Year 12 students wish to return and we are hopeful that our development proposal to increase our overall enrolment to 600, which was submitted to the Department of Education earlier in the year will enable us to do that,” she said.

“Mr O’Dowd has gone on record saying that ‘successful and popular oversubscribed schools will be allowed to grow’ . Well our recent inspection report officially states that we are a very successful school, in fact outstanding in a number of areas! And we are also a very popular school.

“John O Dowd is fully aware of his Department’s statutory duty under the Education Reform (NI) Order to ‘encourage and facilitate the development of integrated education’, so we remain optimistic that the voices of parents and pupils will be listened to.

Mrs Anderson said that as an all ability integrated school the school was extremely proud their students and wished them good luck in their future career pathways.

She also thanked the parents, who, she said, were “a rich resource for our school – teachers and parents working together in partnership in New-Bridge, has brought great gains in terms of progress and academic achievement.

She added. “As a non-selective school, we recognise that all of our pupils have different talents and we strive to ensure that each pupil has an equal opportunity to find and develop the talents they possess. There is no doubt that the staff – both teaching and non-teaching – are our greatest strength. They continue to provide a safe and caring environment which inspires young people to achieve their potential. The staff’s commitment to the development of the whole person along with the care shown for each pupil, ensures that New-Bridge Integrated College is a special experience for students.

“Many of our students have studied 8 or more GCSEs and it is a real credit to everyone involved when students can achieve results which enable them to progress to A Levels or progress to SRC Vocational courses to further their education and develop their skills.

“This has been another exceptional year of results, both at GCSE and A Level. With over 75% of our Year 12 pupils achieving five A*-C at GCSE level, which is significantly higher than the NI Average for non-selective schools. We also acknowledge the top achievements of students in their Year 11 GCSE modules, which were sat in June and look forward to another successful year. At New-Bridge our GCSE results truly demonstrate that all ability education works.

“At A Level, 100% of our A Level students left with a minimum of two A Levels and I am delighted to report that the number of students who achieved 3 A Levels grades A*-C grades has increased by 10% from the year before and once again these results are above the NI average for a non-selective school, so well done to our Year 14 leavers.

“The results at AS level were equally impressive with over 60% of students achieving a minimum of three A Levels grades A-C grades – we are anticipating another great year of A Level results.“

Mrs Anderson said that the school remains an active member of the Banbridge Learning Community and we are grateful to the other schools who work collaboratively in partnership with us, to offer a greater choice of subjects to our students.

She added, “I would like to to pay tribute to the schools and the Southern Regional College for the huge role they have played in the development of courses at GCSE and A Level. I am pleased to report that with 40 New-Bridge students completing a vocational BTEC or Occupational Studies course, 100% achieved Grades A*-C.

“There is no doubt that New-Bridge Integrated College represents a good model of shared education but collaborative arrangements with other schools have also created inclusive environments, where learners can participate fully and have opportunities to learn alongside others. We are committed to further developing this partnership in the interests of shared education.

“A good school is however about much more than the achievement of examination results. At New-Bridge, our pupils are taught the determination to be the best they possibly can be and to make a difference. As the saying goes,I ‘qualifications will get you an interview, character gets you the job’.

“We hope that the New-Bridge experience has helped our pupils develop that strength of character. “

She concluded by saying, “Students, past and present, you are a credit to yourselves, your families and the school. Be very proud of your achievements and always carry that pride of having being part of something special at New-Bridge.

“Education is about the road taken, and the road not taken. Our lives are journeys where our decisions and our courage can lead to the fulfilment of our true selves. We thank our parents and pupils for choosing New-Bridge Integrated College, perhaps the road less travelled, and hope that the values of tolerance and mutual respect, will no doubt play a significant part in bringing about a peaceful future in NI.