Celebrating its fortieth anniversary this year, Good Shepherd Primary School is an integral part of the Poleglass community, with over 350 pupils.
The school has gone from strength to strength with the outcome of a recent inspection report being hugely positive with the school achieving the top grade. The report revealed the school “now has a high level of capacity for sustained improvement in the interests of all the learners".
Principal Damian O’Neill shared his delight at the “positive language contained in the report".
Damian, who became principal of the school in 2015, said the positive report “it is down to a big effort on the part of a very capable staff".
“They are extremely passionate about the work that they do with the children. It makes my job a whole lot easier when I know that both our teaching and non-teaching staff are absolutely on board and want the very best for the children.”
A new school improvement programme targeting standards in literacy and numeracy aims to ensure that “no child be left behind” and is very much in keeping with the ethos of the school. The school offers a Healthy Eating Breakfast Club where children can come to school from 8am and receive a healthy breakfast of cereals, toasts, and fruit juice for £1.
The school also works in partnership with Ulster Orchestra on its Crescendo programme to provide a robust Music Curriculum for Primary 1 to Primary 4 pupils. Members of the Ulster Orchestra provide music and instrumental lessons including violin, viola, cello and double bass tuition for pupils as they progress up the school. Pupils in Primary 5, 6 and Primary 7 have the opportunity to participate in instrumental tuition both during and after school hours. In addition, the Ulster Orchestra provides opportunities for the pupils to perform alongside The Ulster Orchestra and other schools throughout the school year.
The school provides a wide range of other programmes beyond the curriculum ensuring the kids can participate and excel in a host of activities including hurling, Gaelic football, handball, soccer, arts and craft, computer-based activities, cooking and drama.
The school hasn’t lost sight of the challenges presented by the current cost of living crisis.
“As we know, times are not easy for families at the minute so we try to do what we can to lighten the burden for everyone in this area,” Principal Damian O’Neill told the Andersonstown News.
“We have upwards of 80 per cent of our children in receipt of free school meals. It’s a really challenging time for all concerned so we are now offering fruit breaks for children from P1 to P3. We’ve also offered free swimming lessons for our P5-7 children this year. We’re offering free educational trips for all our children. These experiences are being funded by the school and we think that each of these decisions has been taken for the greater good of families and the community because they help to broaden the children’s learning experiences.
"Involvement in such activities help to develop children’s language skills and broadens their perspectives on life. Some of our kids would not have the chance to get to these places and we feel that where we can help facilitate such opportunities, it is the right thing to do.”
The principal emphasised that the “compassion that exists in the Colin community is definitely reflected in what goes on here in the school and after 40 years of dedicated service to the Poleglass community, we look forward with optimism to writing the next chapter for our children and their families.”
Good Shepherd Primary School will host an Open Morning on Thursday 8th of December at 9:30am for parents and family members of children of nursery school age who are eligible for Primary 1 in September 2023.