Smiles and Celebrations at 19th Annual Prizeday

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 Smiles and Celebrations at 19th Annual Prizeday

Guest of Honour, Education Minister, John O’Dowd

New-Bridge Integrated College celebrated the achievements and success of all GCSE and A Level Students in the 19th annual Prize Night Ceremony which was held in the College on Tuesday 23rd September 2014.  Certificates were given to all students with special awards going to those who have shown an outstanding dedication to their studies and the College. See Gallery for pictures of Prizewinners:

Mr John O’Dowd, Education Minister

Guest speaker Mr John O’Dowd, Education Minister spoke about the importance of recognising individual achievements in education and to celebrate the successes of pupils. 

Mr O Dowd ‘s opening line of his speech complimented the school on its success to date “New-Bridge Integrated College is an excellent school” .  His response to Mrs Anderson’s comment that ‘fully integrated schools must remain on the agenda within the mainstream funding for shared education’ was that whilst he is promoting shared education, it is not a replacement for integrated education and he will continue to support the integrated sector. “Integrated Education is not in competition with the shared education model, but an important link and element within the one education  system”. The Minister referred to the 4 million investment to date, as a“ stop gap” with his pledge that he will endeavour to secure more investment and an acknowledgement that our school needs better facilities. He applauded the atmosphere and ethos of the New- Bridge Community, describing our school as a “ happy school” with ‘a great sense of community’ as it was evident that it was well supported by parents, staff and governors.  He went onto say that the students he saw before him were “ confident citizens” who had impressed him greatly. Particularly during his previous visit in 2013, where he recalled the q+a session with sixth form students, who were mature, friendly and confident with their articulate questions- he knew the leavers were ready for the various pathways ahead of them , not just academically but “ work ready”.  Mr O Dowd paid tribute to the Principal and Senior Leadership Team whose leadership filtered down throughout the school and resulted in improving the  lives and sometimes  changing the lives of our students one at a time

Mrs Anderson, Principal

Mrs Anderson welcomed students, past and present to New-Bridge Integrated College’s Senior Prize-giving. She extended a very special welcome to our Guest Speaker for the occasion, Education Minister for Northern Ireland, Mr John O Dowd.

  “We are delighted that Mr O’Dowd was able to accept our invitation to join us in our celebration of success.

Tonight is about you, our pupils, and as a school community we come together to congratulate each and every one of you on your GCSE and A level achievements.

This has been another exceptional year of results.  At GCSE Level. 100% of our pupils achieved 5A*-E grades at GCSE level – over 70% of the year group achieved 5 A*-C. and 75% of our pupils’ performance was within the A*-B band which is a terrific achievement. It is widely accepted that good literacy and numeracy are key to employability and further study, – I am proud to report that our 5A*-C including Maths and English remain higher than the NI Average for non selective schools; we are delighted to have been included in the ETI Inspectorate Good Practice Report on raising standards in English and Maths 2013/14.  As a school we are narrowing the performance gap between the highest and lowest achievers, as our hard working staff engages in a range of strategies to maximise performance.  We are grateful for the OFM DFM Social Signature appointments and I can report to the Minister that this invaluable resource is making a difference to our pupils’ learning in English and MathsLong may that funding opportunity continue.

 There are some remarkable individual success stories in all subject areas at GCSE Level.  Well done to our Year 12 leavers – class of 2014.  We also congratulate our present year 12 students on their success in their Year 11 GCSE Modulesone third of this year group has already achieved a full GCSE in Maths or Occupational Studies.  As a non-selective school, with a strong tradition for inclusion, we recognise our pupils have different talents and we strive to ensure that each pupil has an equal opportunity to find and develop the talents they possess, from the academic to the vocational, from sporting to musical and from drama to creative arts, and you will see this in the range of prizes distributed tonight.

At A level, 100% of our year group left with a minimum of 2 A Levels and I am delighted to report our 3A*-C performance remains above the NI average for a non selective school. 85% achieved 3 A Levels with 75% of our student’s performance within the A*-B band.  A remarkable achievement.  Well done to our Year 14 leavers –class of 2014. 

Our results demonstrate that all ability education works as each child is nurtured and directed to follow their own educational pathway – the learning experience at New-Bridge ensures progression for all our pupils, There is a future pathway for every young person and our excellent careers guidance has helped identify the right one for each of our pupils. – we have achieved parity of esteem with Vocational and Traditional Qualifications evidenced through the Leavers’ Destinations of our pupils.

I would like to thank our partner schools in the Banbridge Area  Learning Community and Southern Regional College who have worked collaboratively with us, to offer a greater choice of subjects to our students both at GCSE and A Level enabling us to meet the requirements of the Entitlement Framework.  We hope that EF funding continues to sustain collaboration in the interests of shared education.

The Minister has stated that if shared education is to succeed fully, there needs to be a shared readiness to change across society.  In New-Bridge, we are proud to report that sharing and integration is already the norm, so we stand tall as drivers of change.

A visitor to A Level classes at New-Bridge in RE, Art, Biology, Creative Media, Sports Studies and English, to name but a few,  would see  students in different uniforms, from different schools. Likewise New-Bridge students are accessing subjects such as Geography, Business Studies and Engineering from our partners in the Banbridge Area Learning Community – so to coin a phrase used by Tony Gallagher in his description of meaningful shared education, we are already engaged in high stake activities which meet the needs of our young people across the Banbridge Area Leaning Community.  I congratulate all our students for their achievements in collaborative courses.

Dr Martin Luther King said:

“If you cant fly, then run,If you cant run, then walkIf you cant walk, then crawl,

but whatever you do, You have to keep moving forward”. 

What a year 2014 has been for our New-Bridge community in moving forward – In addition to great results;

Our Anti-bullying ambassadors received the Princess Diana Award at a Ceremony at the Facebook Headquarters in Dublin.  I am sure most of you have watched the video which was produced on their work as it has inspired so many, which is available to see on our school website.

We accepted our second cohort of 100 pupils into Year  8. Through minor works funding from the Department of Education, we also got our new  library  and Our £4m funding application for a new sports hall and replacement classrooms was approved by the Education Minister and His team. We thank the Department of Education for their funding commitment so far. The Minister has gone on record saying at the Shared Education Conference that signing off plans for a new school build must factor in – the sustainable life span of the school; – ability to deliver high quality education  and capacity to share facilities within an ethos which is respected by the other sectors.

Well Mr O Dowd, by my calculations we tick all the boxes: you know where I am going with this –next year we celebrate our 20th anniversary as a successful growing fully integrated school, the ETI Inspectorate’s findings endorse that we are indeed a VERY GOOD school, in fact OUTSTANDING in a number of key areas and – and as a fully integrated school we promote inclusive practices every day, as we welcome students from other schools across the Post Primary Controlled and CCMS sectors into our Classrooms.

I know that the Minister will understand my reasons for labouring the point that fully integrated schools must remain on the agenda within the mainstream funding for shared education as we are still in need of new facilities.  We remain optimistic!

In the words of Alex Salmond, Scottish First Minister

“let us not dwell on the distance we have fallen short , let us dwell on the distance we have travelled…”

Tonight on behalf of the pupils, parents and governors, I pay tribute to the wonderful staff of New-Bridge Integrated College who continue to make the distance we have travelled so rewarding and inspiring . Our school foundations are built on relationships and it is our integrated ethos, our sense of belonging and our capacity to care for young people that has made our school the success story it is today.

I address you the pupils, past and present when I say that tonight you gain recognition for your success largely because you have taken the opportunities on offer to you.  Your success could not be achieved without enthusiasm,  interest, curiosity and drive – qualities which form the essence of a New-Bridge student.  As Principal I am filled with a great sense of pride to see you all develop into the well rounded individuals you have become, with a strong sense of identity and direction. I congratulate each and everyone of you.

Mr John O’Dowd, Minister for Education is a local man who grew up in a rural community between Lurgan and Banbridge. He has been in politics for over 25 years, spending 14 years as a councillor on Craigavon Council and being elected in 2003 as MLA for Upper Bann. Between 2007 and 2011 he served as Chair of the Public Accounts Committee before becoming a member of the Education Committee in 2008. Mr O Dowd was appointed Minister for Education in May 2011.

Mr O Dowd has stated that he wants to encourage sharing within a system that promotes equality and diversity and which encourages confidence in our individual identities and respect for those of others..” It is very reassuring to know that our Guest Speaker shares in our core values of equality and diversity which we practice every day at New-Bridge.

Mr O Dowd has honoured his commitment to ‘facilitate the growth of integrated education and allow popular oversubscribed schools to grow’ as he approved our development proposal last year, allowing our school to expand to 620 pupils and we are grateful for that.  Mr O Dowd visited our school last year (in the torrential rain I should add) and witnessed first hand our accommodation shortfall but additional funding has been committed to the school and I know that department officials are working hard behind the scenes to secure adjacent land for the school to facilitate new playing fields.

Our Education Minister is described by Jude Collins, writer and broadcaster as “..a man with a very firm grip on his role as Education Minister; a highly effective performer in his field and an able debater…” So we are delighted to have him with us tonight.   

I conclude by thanking you, our parents for entrusting your children to us and for your on-going support.  I want to say to all our young people that you are a credit to yourselves, your families and the school. You have earned this recognition tonight and should be very proud of your achievements.  .  We want you to look back on your time in New-Bridge with affection, with fond memories to share, stories to tell, bonds to be retained for a lifetime.  We are honoured to have provided you with the opportunity to come together to learn, regardless of ability, gender or religious beliefs.

In the words of Michelle Obama, the First Lady…who stood on the Waterfront stage last year with our New-Bridge pupils, –

“We believe that you all have the ability to make a mark on this world that will last for generations to come. 

We are so proud of you.  We expect great things.”

To our students,  Be very proud of your achievements, keep moving forward and always carry with you, that pride of having being part of something very special at New-Bridge Integrated College.”




Welcome New Staff to New-Bridge
2Late – Luke Vance-Brown