A NORTH Belfast primary school is preparing to mark the end of an era before it amalgamates.

Sacred Heart Primary School in Oldpark Avenue is amalgamating with Our Lady's Girls Primary School in Deanby Gardens to form St Columban’s Primary School, which will open in September.

Sacred Heart Boys PS has been a beacon of academic excellence and character development for the boys of the parish.

Sacred Heart Boys PS Principal Joanne Smyth has been appointed the Principal of the new co-educational St Columban’s Primary School which will serve the parish of Sacred Heart. Joanne has served the school for the past 27 years and says the impact of Sacred Heart Boys PS on the local community has been huge.

"I joined Sacred Heart Boys PS in September 1996 as a temporary teacher. Over the past 27 years, I have taught in every year group from P1 to P7 in addition to teaching special needs groups.  

"In September 2007 I was seconded to Education Authority, Belfast Region, as an Education Advisor which involved training teachers across Belfast and beyond in the teaching of reading skills and literacy, specifically within the area of phonics.  

"In September 2010 I returned to Sacred Heart Boys PS and was appointed Vice-Principal in December before being appointed Principal in November 2017.

"Over the past 27 years I have thoroughly enjoyed teaching and leading the children, staff and families through an educational journey filled with fun and laughter, a lot of hard work, dedication, energy and enthusiasm.  

"Throughout my career I have worked with fantastic children, hardworking colleagues and very supportive parents. Together as a school community we have built upon our strong family values, our strong Catholic ethos with a range of community links.  

"I firmly believe that Sacred Heart PS was the heart and future of the community and that together we have made some fabulous memories and friendships over the years that will last a lifetime."

Looking ahead to a new era at St Columban's, Joanne says the future is exciting for everyone in the Oldpark.

"I am very excited and proud to be leading the staff from both schools through this period of change which will bring fantastic opportunities, skills and expertise from a very dedicated team who care for all the boys and girls within our parish.

Joanne Smyth shows off the uniform of the new St Columban's Primary School

Joanne Smyth shows off the uniform of the new St Columban's Primary School

"As I embrace the challenges as Principal of our new co-educational parish school, I hope to continue to inspire and lead the dedicated staff, fantastic children and committed parents to being an outstanding school of excellence. A school which inspires excellence, empowers minds and shapes the future for our young people.  

"St Columban’s PS will be a leading school where learning has no limits, where we are inclusive of all the needs of the children within our diverse community delivered by an excellent team committed to developing our children to be the best that they can be within an engaging and nurturing environment."

A special celebration of Sacred Heart Boys PS will take place this Thursday (June 13) from 2-3pm.


The event will feature the launch of a new book, the opening of a parenting pod and light refreshments and everyone is welcome. The commemorative book is filled with stories, photographs, and reflections, and captures the school's rich history, achievements, and cherished memories. 

The publication and launch of this book will be a momentous occasion, bringing together alumni, current students, staff, and community members.

"It's a tribute to the remarkable journey of Sacred Heart Boys PS," added Joanne. "This celebration of enduring bonds and successes marks a testament to the school's commitment to shaping future leaders in the community."