“Good evening distinguished guests, Governors, parents, staff and most importantly pupils, both past and present. I would like to welcome you to Crumlin Integrated College’s annual Prize Evening for 2019.
For those of you whom I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting, and particularly for the benefit of those Year 12 pupils who left last year, allow me to introduce myself. My name is Niall O’ Hara and I am the newly appointed Principal here at Crumlin Integrated College. I am delighted to take up the role.
This evening I am delighted to welcome back to the College our guest speaker for this evening, Mr Henderson, a former inspirational and highly regarded Principal. Mr Henderson served as Headmaster from 1986-2002 when our college was known as Crumlin High School. There will be a much fuller introduction later before he addresses all gathered. You are very welcome.
The main aim and purpose of any school is to educate and develop young people and make a valuable and tangible contribution to their formation as effective and confident contributors to society. This takes many forms; we develop pupils academically, socially, emotionally and uniquely, as part of our integrated ethos and culture that permeates all of the above, we develop attitudes and dispositions of tolerance and mutual respect to promote and encourage our pupils to embrace a shared culture and become ambassadors for improved social cohesion. All of this is predicated on the four cornerstones of our integrated ethos promoted by our governing body NICIE; EQUALITY, FAITH & VALUES, PARENTAL INVOLVEMENT and SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY. To the young people here present tonight, and to the rest of our student population, both past and present – Our College, our work and our efforts exist for you, but without you our college would not exist. Therefore, as much as we are here to celebrate and applaud your achievements and successes, I also wish, on behalf of the college community to thank you for all that you do in this reciprocal journey of education that we walk together.
Speaking of success, I wish to congratulate each and every one of you for what you have achieved, and for which you will be recognised for in our awards ceremony here tonight. No matter what your award is for, no matter what your grade profile is - there is one thing each one of you has in common – success. The famous hairdresser Vidal Sassoon once said when asked about his entrepreneurial journey;
“The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary”.
So tonight we are here to both applaud and acknowledge your hard work and to celebrate your success. To our last year’s Year 12 students who are with us tonight. Well done on your achievements and your results. Particular congratulations go to our three top performing candidates; Janet Kaunda, Shane McCauley and Matthew Gordon. To our current pupils here tonight who will receive a variety of curricular and endeavour awards I also congratulate you too for your achievements. Sir Winston Churchill once said of success the following;
“Success is not final. Failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.”
Apply that wisdom to your next stage of your journey and you can continue to do well.
There were four subject areas that achieved 100% A*-C; Art, Technology and Design, Double Award Science and Occupational Studies Business and Services. I would like to put on record my sincere congratulations for the hard work and effort that has gone into this achievement by both pupils and staff.
Schools are about people, schools are about education through developing relationships and knowledge, schools are about shaping our pupils’ lives and attitudes, schools are about sharing the experiences be they happy or sad within our college community, schools are about supporting those who experience difficulties in their daily lives. Schools are about and made up of each one of you here tonight. Schools are about more than just what happens in the classroom.
If you prefer something more sporting now's the time to sit up and listen about the exciting developments in Crumlin Integrated College's after school sporting programme. Mr McComb has recently launched, for the first time in some years, a Year 9 soccer team. They have been entered into the schools' league and so far have had 2 outings in competitive games. This is very much down to the growing numbers of pupils attending our school and the commitment and dedication of staff to 'go the extra mile' for our pupils. I have no doubt that within the next year or two we will have representation on the competitive sporting arena from years 8-12.
Another very exciting development in our sporting provision is our new partnership with Ulster GAA. Over the summer six of our pupils were chosen to play Gaelic Football in London as part of the Antrim Cuchulainns initiative. The six boys; Adrijus Maistrenko, Jason Clelland-Harkin, Kyi Addis, Aaron Skidmore, Albert Rosa and Ethan Cormican donned the Cuchulainn jerseys with pupils from Parkhall and other schools as part of the competition. Additional success was secured when Adrijus Maestrenko was named as and presented with the Player of the Tournamnet Trophy.
It doesn’t end there. We have continued to build upon this new relationship and are very lucky to have Mr Alfie Hannaway delivering Gaelic Football as part of the Year 8 and 9 PE programme in association with Gaelfest and Ulster GAA.
Schools are extensions to the community. We serve the community and the families who live there. We help address issues that arise in the community through educating our young people. We collaborate with other groups within the community and work with community agencies to improve our pupils’ experiences of school. We share with our community be that, talent, resources or even our building and its facilities. We are only one of four schools in the Crumlin Community and I am delighted that I have inherited a very strong Shared Education Partnership which is co-ordinated by Mrs Magee.
CIC works very closely with our local primary schools; St. Joseph's, Gaelscoil Ghlenn Darach and Crumlin Integrated Primary. Pupils and staff from all four schools worked on a number of different projects in a total of 12 lessons over 24 hours of shared education throughout the last academic year.
Lastly, but most importantly to our pupils and parents. You are the reason why this school exists. Can I take this opportunity to put on record how grateful we are that you choose our school for your KS3 and KS4 educational journey? As a school community we hope that your preference for an integrated and high quality education was received in your time with us. The completion of GCSE signals the beginning of a new educational pathway beyond the walls and perimeters of our college. So as one journey ends a new one begins and we wish you every success for the path you will travel towards your respective career and continued education.
We do have one regret though - that you had to leave. Part of our development strategy here in the school is to investigate and make the case to the EA that Crumlin Integrated College should be permitted to become an 11-18 school and have the right to offer our pupils the option to remain here for post 16 study. Although it's unlikely that this permission will be given in this academic year, it is part of a three-year development plan the Board of Governors and I are currently working on. Whilst every school has a past, it is more important to recognise that every school has a future. It is the future we want to develop and strengthen for the young people of Crumlin.
We are investigating the possibility of introducing a grammar stream intake at year 8. There is no reason why pupils from Crumlin and the surrounding areas should have to travel to Belfast or other places to access post primary education. Nor is there any reason why our pupils should have to leave at the end of Year 12 to get a post 16 education. Why should they have to travel further? Why should they have to get used a new school? Why should they have to make new friends, get used to new staff, new procedures and a new building? Crumlin Integrated College can and does offer all that any other school can offer, but to do so we need the community support and pupil numbers in order to achieve this. Crumlin has the right to have a school that caters for pupils aged 11-18, that caters for pupils with the full range of abilities, that caters for parental choice for an integrated education and that caters for pupils who should not have to get a 7.30am bus out of the town to access this. We can and we will, with your support make the case that it's time for the EA to cater for Crumlin and more importantly cater for Crumlin Integrated College.
Since September I have met with the vast majority of our local politicians to enlist their support and help to work with the school. Together we have begun to lobby the Educational Authority (EA) in order that the EA will take their responsibilities towards our school and the Crumlin community more seriously. The drought on investment in our school is over. I thank Mr Declan Kearney, Sinn Feinn, Mr Trevor Clarke DUP and Mr Danny Kinnehan UUP for meeting with me and pledging their support.
The EA say that, “They will encourage and facilitate the provision of integrated education in Crumlin.” I publically call on them now to stop giving lip service to that notion and begin doing! Our pupils deserve better. There now needs to be demonstrable action to prove that they are doing what they have committed to in writing and in their publications. There is an old Arabian proverb;
A promise is a cloud; fulfillment is rain.
Hopefully the dark cloud of the EA can release some rain. Rain that will nurture, feed, grow and permit our school to blossom. That metaphoric rain will be;
- Actual support
- Financial Investment
- Investment in resources
- A level playing field with other schools
In keeping with the theme of rain I have ‘showered’ The EA consistently and persistently with phonecalls and emails since taking up post in September to prompt them into action. I am glad to say the strategy is beginning to work. I am very pleased to report this evening that the EA has agreed to implement a scheme of works to improve our driveway to make it more aesthetically pleasing, but more importantly safer for our pupils to use. This will be an interim solution until such time as work to create a brand new school entrance gate, a new separate exit gate, a new bus parking and turning circle facilities and a new one-way traffic management system at the front of our school has been completed. We are hoping that this will have begun by this time next year. I will keep you posted on all developments.
W B Yeats, the famous Irish poet is once said,
“Education is not the filling of a pot but the lighting of a fire.”
Crumlin Integrated College is on fire! It’s more than that. It is a shining beacon for the Crumlin Community. No dark clouds, no rain nor any storms will get close to our fire. We are here for the long run. We will continue to burn brightly. Our fire will not be extinguished. “