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Schools are doing us all proud in the exam stakes

GCSE joy after another round of great results

Corpus Christi boys are delighted with their results Corpus Christi boys are delighted with their results
By Francesca Ryan

Last Thursday’s rain couldn’t dampen the spirits of hundreds of young people celebrating their success at GCSE level.

We visited some of our local schools on Thursday morning to share in their achievement.

Our first stop was St Rose’s Dominican College where newly appointed Principal Michele McGurran was celebrating with her new charges.

“I did 10 GSCEs and passed them all,” beamed Fionnuala McGill. “I’m so happy to be coming back to do my A-Levels in History, Psychology, Politics and English Literature.”

“I’m delighted,” added Rhianna McConnell.  “I did 10 and passed them all, including three As.  I’m also coming back to St Rose’s to do A-Levels in Drama, English Literature and ITC.”

Paula Breen got eight GCSEs out of eight. “I got four As, two Bs and two Cs so I will be coming back to do A-Levels,” she said.  It was a similar story for Dearbhla Lewsley who passed nine out of nine exams. “I’m just taking it all in,” she said.  “I got them all, I’m so happy. I will be coming back here to sit my A-Levels.”

Their proud new Principal was very pleased to kick off her time at St Rose’s with such success.

“I’m absolutely delighted,” she said.  “A total of 68 per cent have scored between A* and C in five or more subjects.  That’s down to the hard work of the staff and pupils and the support of their parents.  I am looking forward to welcoming these girls back to Sixth Form.”

Moving up the road, we arrived at Corpus Christi College where the ICT results had yet to arrive but the pupils were revelling in the success of the available results while Principal Frank Maskey looked on.

“I have six passes,” said Curtis Rainey.  “I’m looking forward to doing A-Levels in Media, Photography and English Literature.”

Kevin McKenna also passed the lot.  “ I did six and passed them all,” he said.  “I’m very happy as this will allow me to do Catering next year.”

Anthony Reid was awaiting his ICT result, but already his future was mapped out.  “I’ve got six passes so far and will be doing my A-Levels in Science and Business, so I’m very happy.”

Sean McIlhone will also be returning to the school. “I’ve seven passes,” he said.  “I’m really happy and will be coming back to Corpus to do A-Level Sport and Science.”

Mr Maskey said he is delighted the school is making continued progress.

“We have seen an increase in the number of boys getting five GCSEs, including English and Maths,” he said. “We are making excellent progress year-on-year and I’m pleased many of the boys will be returning for A-Level programmes.  The hard work put in at Saturday school and classes held over the lunch hours is paying off, we are very happy today.”

A stone’s throw away at Coláiste Feirste, students were collecting their results in the school’s magnificent library. The Irish-medium school has once again achieved well above the average of five GCSEs A*-C. Following last year’s phenomenal results, which placed Coláiste Feirste as the seventh highest performing all-ability school in the North, the school has excelled again amongst the top all-ability schools with the majority of its students achieving at least 5 GCSEs at grades A*-C and up to 11 GCSEs.

“I’ve three A*s and seven As,” said Colleen Curley.  “I’m so happy and glad I will be back at the school to do Biology, Chemistry, Maths and Irish at A-Level.”

“I’ve got 10 including four A*s,” said Aislinn Scanlon.  “I didn’t get my hopes up just in case, so I’m really happy.  I will be back here to do English, Irish and Art at A-Level.”

Pearse Doherty scored seven passes.  “I’m over the moon,” he said.  “I will be coming back next year to do my A-Levels.”

Odhrán Russell will also be returning to Coláiste Feirste.  “I did 10 GCSEs and got them all,” he smiled.  “I wasn’t expecting it, so I’m really happy and am glad I can come back to study History, Irish and ICT.”

Robert Mac Phail Mac Siacais is considering his options after scoring some great results. “I got an A*, four As and five Bs,” he said.  “I’m very happy and will be thinking about what to do next year now.”

Principal Mícheál Mac Giolla Ghunna had particular praise for his  students’ parents.

“This is another fine  achievement for our school,” he said.  “The great work our staff and students do within the school, coupled with the tremendous support from parents, has once again delivered top qualifications for our young people across a wide range of subjects.  We look forward to welcoming them back next week to continue with their Irish-medium education post-sixteen.”

Key Stage 4 Manager Diarmaid Ua Bruadair added: “Whilst we do have over three quarters of our GCSE students achieving five-plus GCSEs at A-C, we also have, in recent years, a growing number of our students achieving between seven and 11 GCSEs with many students achieving A* grades. This is testament to the unique learning environment that Irish-medium education can provide. Indeed, many of the colleges and universities have commented on the high levels of confidence and communication skills our students possess.”

Year 12 Head of Year Séamas Mac Colaim acknowledged that these fantastic results are due to good, old-fashioned hard work by staff and students alike. “We are extremely proud of our students and wish, especially, to highlight the achievements of Coleen Ní Thoirealaigh who achieved three A*s and seven As at GCSE, Robert Mac Phail Mac Siacas, who achieved two A*s, three As and five Bs, Ciaran Clifford achieving seven As, two Bs and a C, Shannon Ní Choinn with three A*s , three As and four Bs, and others who have been encouraged and supported to achieve the very top academic results.”

“We also wish our recent A-Level leavers the very best as many of them will now pursue their studies in universities in Ireland, Scotland, England and beyond,” added Mr Mac Giolla Ghunna.  “Others will continue in colleges of  further education and in employment, following career paths such as law, pharmacy, criminology, science, creative technologies and, of course, languages.”

“We look forward to the coming school year with great anticipation.  We are incredibly optimistic for our young students, both in and out of the classroom, as our committed staff, students and parents work collaboratively to help Coláiste Feirste achieve its ultimate ambition of becoming a flagship school for post-primary education in Ireland.”

There were smiles galore at St Louise’s Comprehensive College where scores of pupils were gathering in the school foyer to share their news.

“I got four A*s, four As and a B,” grinned Louise Compston.  “I’m really happy and can’t wait to come back and study History, Media, Drama and religion at A-Level.”

Claire Palmer also scored a set of top-notch marks. “I got five A*s, four As and two Bs,” she said.  “I am really happy, I wasn’t expecting it at all so I am looking forward to coming back to study Maths, Chemistry, Biology and Music.”

Gianna Pornasdoro will also be returning to St Louise’s. “I got an A*, six As and two Bs,” she beamed.  “I feel really good! I will be back to study A-Levels in Media, ICT and English.”

With five As, two Bs and two Cs, Margaret Mackel is still deciding which subjects to plump for at A-Level. “I definitely wasn’t expecting it so I’m very happy today,” she said.  “I will be back here to study A-Levels in History and Drama, but I haven’t yet decided on the third subject.”

Principal Carmel McCartan was enjoying her pupils’ success. “The results are brilliant,” she said. “Last year 97 per cent of our students achieved at least five GCSEs at A* to C level.  We are absolutely delighted to see that not only have we maintained this high standard of academic success but, at 99 per cent, we have done even better this year.

“We are very proud of our students who have worked exceptionally hard to achieve these outstanding results.  I congratulate them on their achievements and look forward to welcoming them into our Sixth Form. I also pay tribute to their dedicated, hard-working teachers who are delighted with their students’ successes. Their hard work, including after-school classes every day and Saturday School from October to June, has certainly paid off.  I would also like to acknowledge and thank our parents whose support and sense of partnership underpin all our achievements.

“As I have said many times, St Louise’s proves once again that all children can achieve success in schools in which there are high expectations and a belief in the potential and dignity of every young person, without the need for an unjust, divisive, selection process.

“We care about every child and we want to give them the best start in life possible, that’s the spirit of St Louise’s.  These are wonderful young people and it’s a privilege to work with such talent.”

That positive mood was also reflected at St Colm’s in Twinbrook where students eagerly scanned their results while new Principal Cathy McMurray looked on. “I did really well,” said Emma Byrne.  “I got 11 GSCEs, I wasn’t expecting it so I’m very happy and looking forward to coming back to study A-Levels in Drama, Art and Politics.”

Nichola Campbell secured all seven passes for the exams she sat. “I’m very happy because I got mostly Bs,” she said.  “I will be studying Politics, Child Development and Performing Arts at A-Level.”

Rachel Magennis and Louise Megaw both got eight GCSEs and were thrilled. “I’m happy overall,” said Rachel.  “I will be back at St Colm’s to do A-Levels in Art, Performing Arts and Beauty Therapy.”

“I’m coming back too,” said Louise. “I will be studying Health and Social Care, Business and Government and Politics at A-Level here at St Colm’s.”

Claudia Connolly was equally pleased. “I got 10 GSCEs, so I will definitely be coming back here to study A-Levels in Health and Social Care, Applied Science and Business.”

“I’m very happy,” said their Principal. “The results have gone up again this year so this is a very exciting day for the school community.  I am delighted for the pupils and I am delighted to see our supportive staff talking students through their options.

“I will also be very happy to welcome many of the pupils back to St Colm’s in September.”

The jubilant atmosphere at St Dominic’s Grammar School for Girls was spilling out into the car park as the Year 12 pupils excitedly celebrated their outstanding success.

Following on from their outstanding A-Level results last week, the pupils, staff and parents are now also thrilled at the outcome of this year’s GCSE results.

This year group are celebrating unprecedented success with a record 99 per cent of pupils achieving A*-C, the school’s highest achievement at GCSE to date.

Year 12 pupil Aoife Walls was beaming with delight as she celebrated what can only be described as an outstanding achievement. Not only did she secure 11 A*s and one A in her GCSEs, but she also studied for her Spanish GCSE independently at home. Aoife was not the only Year 12 pupil to achieve success early in her career, a total of five pupils all achieved As in two GCSEs a year early in Year 11.

It was obvious from the staff’s delight at the results that St Dominic’s prides itself on all its efforts to not only ensure that students achieve highly academically but, more importantly, on its efforts to develop all students holistically through participation in a wide range of extra-curricular activities and competitions.

“I’m extremely proud of the girls who have shown amazing determination and commitment to their studies,” said Principal Carol McCann. “These fabulous results are the deserved culmination of two years of  hard work of pupils and staff.

“The school, working collaboratively in close partnership with the parents, has seen results improving year-on-year. I am delighted to see an improvement upon the fantastic success of last year, but, of course, this would not have been possible without the ceaseless commitment and dedication of our teachers. The staff always go above and beyond the call of duty when helping our girls. At a time when young people receive so much adverse publicity it’s heartwarming and inspiring to see young women achieve so highly.”

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