GCSE Success rewarded at St Paul’s

Mr Jarlath Burns, Principal of St Paul’s High School, Bessbrook, welcomed a large crowd of parents, friends and pupils, to the GCSE Prize giving. Mr Burns introduced the platform party and welcomed Mrs Eileen Fearon Chairperson of the Governors, Very Rev Father Seán Larkin, PP, Vice-chair of Board of Governors, Ms Katy McGovern, Student Office from the First Trust Bank and the guest speaker for the night Ms Shauna Fay past pupil and very successful bespoke fashion designer.

Principal Mr Jarlath Burns addressing pupils and their parents at GCSE prizegiving.

Mr Burns addressed the pupils and their parents:

“The success we see before us today is a testimony to many things, and so many people have to play a strong, at times inspirational, at times encouraging, at times annoying role in this process. It is not easy. Success in school starts in the home; at the kitchen table or the desk in the bedroom when a commitment is made to turn off the TV, just as The Big Bang Theory is starting, to switch off Facebook and Instagram and to dedicate a few hours to the books – it’s the mark of a strong, supportive home that prioritises study and does so in a manner which does not cause stress to either child or parent;”

“If success begins and ends in the home, the middle part is filled in by the school. This is what we do – our business is taking your children and turning them into adults; enlightened sensitive, resilient, happy, cheerful, spiritual people who love their area, their country and their faith in Jesus. Along the way, we also give them the values which we treasure in our school; truth, integrity, compassion and kindness. We know we do this well; there are good days and not so good ones, some scrapes, rows, tears, fall outs, confusions, but we are a family – a really really big one, but a family still, held together by that bit of maroon and a school motto which spells out clearly what we are – In Caritate Radicati – Rooted in Love”

“You’ll notice that I never mentioned exams, curriculum, tests, syllabuses, CCEA, AQA in that last piece – This is because before we even consider putting a pen, or a test tube, or a protractor into your children’s hand that they must firstly believe in what we do, and in how we do it. Our mission is to make children love our school, have a commitment to the school crest, the jersey, and most importantly, our values. We are a radical school, we don’t follow tradition, we don’t have a glorious history of over a century like many schools, but what we do have is a confidence in what we are, what we stand for and what we want to do for your children.”

“In the midst of all this, our results are consistently outstanding – how we get our results is by following a process that is perhaps unique to us – hard hard work, giving pupils the benefit of the doubt, but most importantly, understanding their world, appreciating the complexities of their lives, working with them on their terms, giving them chances, more chances, staying after school, believing in them, begging them, pleading with them to get the last piece of coursework in.”

“Society, the world of work and universities place a great value on maths and English as the foundation blocks of our economy and our education system. This has always been the case and rightly so, because to be able to read, write and count is a most basic skill which we all need to function in the modern world. There is a great emphasis on this in our schools. As a result of this, the success criteria of a school are based on the ability of pupils to get 5 GCSEs including English and Maths. The NI average is 47%. We were always around the 52 mark, but focused in a real way on this part of our teaching over the past two years. Schools would do anything to get their percentage up by one or two points, but this year we leapt a full 11 percentage points to 63% of our all ability, unselected, undiluted, full ability range, getting the gold dust statistic of 5 or more GCSEs including English and Maths – 63% ~ 20% higher than average.”

We are very very proud of our pupils; and I as principal am extremely proud of my staff. But we are not a results factory; or certainly not in a purely academic sense, because when I meet people in Hughes Shop in Camlough and they talk to me about the great results St. Paul’s are getting, more often than not they mean our footballers, our netballers or our pupils on the stage.

“In our school we believe selection at aged 11 to be wrong, immoral, unfair and abusive to little children who should be experiencing their education at this age through play, discovery and activity, not by studying for a totally pointless exam on which so so much rests. This is wrong – pure and simple. It cannot be justified on any level.”

“So I say to all of you, parents, pupils, teachers, and everyone else who contributes to what we will celebrate tonight. Well done! Sit back, bask in your success; you have deserved it, but as you know, the GCSEs are the MacCormack Cup or the Ulster Final of education. Bigger days lie ahead, bigger challenges, higher stakes and you can’t afford to dine out on how well you did in June. When you’ve always done what you’ve always done, you always get what you’ve always got.”

Mr Burns then introduced Ms Shauna Fay, the guest speaker for the night.

Shauna spoke of her journey from a pupil in St Paul’s to a successful fashion designer, who has recently opened her first shop. She advised the pupils that they must go above and beyond what is expected to get want they want in life. To achieve your goals takes hard work and sacrifice and commitment 24 hours a day 7 days a week. She advised them to focus on all subjects, not only those they are passionate about, as they will never know which skills they may require in later on in life. She finished with a quote, “Follow your dreams or you will end up working for someone who did.”

Guest speaker Ms Shauna Fay spoke of her journey from a pupil in St Paul’s to a successful fashion designer.

Mr Burns concluded the night by thanking everyone for coming and expressing his appreciation for their continuing support of St Paul’s.

See below for photos from GCSE prizegiving.

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Pictured are students who received individual awards for Best Examination Results at GCSE. The students are pictured with Principal, Mr Jarlath Burns, Chairperson of Governors, Mrs Eileen Fearon, Vice-chairman of Governors, V Rev Father Sean Larkin and guest speaker Ms Shauna Fay.

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Pictured are students who received individual awards for Best Examination Results at GSCE. The students are pictured with Principal, Mr Jarlath Burns, Chairperson of Governors, Mrs Eileen Fearon, Vice-chairman of Governors, V Rev Father Sean Larkin and guest speaker Ms Shauna Fay.

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Pictured are students who received individual awards for their Endeavour and Contribution to subjects. The students are pictured with Principal, Mr Jarlath Burns, Mrs Eileen Fearon Chairperson of Governors, Ms Katy McGovern from the First Trust Bank, Vice-chairman of Governors, V Rev Father Sean Larkin and guest speaker Ms Shauna Fay.

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Pictured are students who received individual awards for their Endeavour and Contribution to subjects. The students are pictured with Principal, Mr Jarlath Burns, Mrs Eileen Fearon Chairperson of Governors, Ms Katy McGovern from the First Trust Bank, Vice-chairman of Governors, V Rev Father Sean Larkin and guest speaker Ms Shauna Fay.

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Pictured are students who received individual awards for their Endeavour and Contribution to subjects. The students are pictured with Principal, Mr Jarlath Burns, Mrs Eileen Fearon Chairperson of Governors, Ms Katy McGovern from the First Trust Bank, Vice-chairman of Governors, V Rev Father Sean Larkin and guest speaker Ms Shauna Fay.

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Students who received individual awards for Endeavour and Contribution:- Rebecca Gamble, Caelian Mc Parland, Jamie Mc Donnell, Ciaran Ward and Emma King. The students are pictured with Principal, Mr. Jarlath Burns, Chairperson of Governors, Mrs Eileen Fearon, Vice-chairman of Governors, Ms Katy McGovern from the First Trust Bank, V Rev Father Sean Larkin and guest speaker Ms Shauna Fay.

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Pictured are Jessica Carroll and Jarly Og Burns who received individual awards for their Commitment to Music and Gaelic Games. The students are pictured with Mrs Eileen Fearon Chairperson of Governors and guest speaker Ms Shauna Fay.

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Students who received class medals for Endeavour and Contribution. The students are pictured with Principal, Mr Jarlath Burns, Chairperson of Governors, Mrs Eileen Fearon, Vice-chairman of Governors, V Rev Father Sean Larkin and guest speaker Ms Shauna Fay.

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Students who received Awards for Outstanding Attendance over five years at St Paul’s: Sean Treanor Sinead Murphy, Tara Mc Keown, Linda Mc Keown, Alex Mc Keown, Michael Lindsay, and Melissa Carroll, pictured with Vice-chairman of Governors, V Rev Father Sean Larkin and guest speaker Ms Shauna Fay.

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Recipients of Awards for Academic Excellence at GCSE;-Joseph Mee, Shauna Magill, Niamh Cluett, Hannah Rushe and Conor Mc Keever, pictured with Principal, Mr Jarlath Burns, Chairperson of Governors, Mrs Eileen Fearon.

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Recipient of a Special award for GCSE Art and Design (True Colours art and design exhibition 2014; – Cloideach Rafferty pictured with their proud parents Mr and Mrs Rafferty, Principal, Mr Jarlath Burns, Chairperson of Governors, Mrs Eileen Fearon, Vice-chairman of Governors, V Rev Father Sean Larkin and guest speaker Ms Shauna Fay.

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Recipient of award for Best Overall Results at GCSE 2014:- Joseph Mee pictured with his proud parents Mr. and Mrs Mee, Principal, Mr Jarlath Burns Chairperson of Governors, Mrs Eileen Fearon, Vice-chairman of Governors, V Rev Father Sean Larkin.

One comment

Always a great night, hope no one minds if I congratulate the past pupils of St. Peter’s and give a special mention to Joseph Mee, I remember his parents support of the school when they were tring to obtain a place for him. It was a lucky day for the school.

by John Campbell on 11/12/2014 at 5:01 pm #

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