Auxiliary Bishop of Down & Connor
Very Rev John McManus Vice Chairman
Mr Maurice Moroney DE Representative
Mrs Geraldine Goodall DE Representative
Mrs Joan Cronin Trustee Representative
Mr Harry Coll Trustee Representative
Mr Terry McDaid Trustee Representative
Mrs Paula Durkan Elected Parent Governor
Mr Eugene Leneghan Elected Teacher Governor
Mrs Geraldine Gibson Secretary to BOG
Art and Design
GCSE, AS and A2 Level, CCEA “True Colours”
Aquinas Art and Design GCSE and A2 students exhibited in May 2010 closely followed by our AS exhibition in June. We enjoyed excellent results at all three levels and were delighted to welcome staff and parents to view the evening exhibitions and enjoy the sense of occasion. We were elated when the work of six GCSE level candidates in addition to three AS level candidates and two A2 candidates, was selected for possible inclusion in the 2010 “True Colours” exhibition.
In February 2010 all GCSE, AS and A2 Art and Design students visited the CCEA “True Colours” exhibition. This exhibition profiles the best and most interesting work from GCSE, AS and A2 levels in Art and Design across Northern Ireland. We were delighted that the work of one Aquinas student (AS level) was displayed within this prestigious exhibition.
One of our Year 11 students was chosen as the overall winner of the Translink poster competition. The winning poster was published for display in Castle Court and on public transport in the Belfast area. Three of our Year 11 students were awarded a Special Merit in the Texaco Children’s Art Competition and their work will be exhibited in the Ulster Museum.
Visitors to the Department
We were delighted when Bronagh Griffin, fashion designer and owner and founder of “Design Inc.” and “19thirty” fashion design company, visited Aquinas to give a presentation to our Year 13 and 14 students on a career in fashion design. Bronagh and her colleague, Julie-Ann Graham a former student of the renowned St. Martin’s College, London, gave a presentation on “Life as a Fashion Student, Life as a Fashion Designer”. This session was extremely interesting and beneficial for us all. Students were given the opportunity to view a fashion design portfolio from St. Martin’s College in addition to asking questions. Bronagh returned to assist two of our Year 14 students with their portfolio applications for Fashion design courses.
Visits Out and About
Year 12, 13 and 14 art and design students visited the RUA Exhibition in The Northern Bank Building, Belfast, in October 2009.
We continued our links with BMC when our Year 13 and 14 students visited their Foundation Art Department in November and were treated to a guided tour by Head of Department, Mrs Eilis Bergin.
Ms Nicola Gilmore designed the set for Calamity Jane and created the scenery along with Ms Kellie Mairs, Mrs E. Creen, Mr N. Mc Clean and Mr Brendan Finnegan in addition to groups of senior art students. The biannual Graphic Design competition for the Poster and Programme was a great success and we found the standard to be exceptionally high this year.
Rags to Riches Workshop
We visited the newly opened Ulster Museum and enjoyed viewing the new exhibition area in addition to participating in a “Rags to Riches” workshop creating unusual artefacts and jewellery from plastic bags.
Welcome to Aquinas Year 8 Competition
The annual Year 8 competition to design the front cover for the introductory booklet for the in-coming Year 8 pupils was organised by the Art and Design department. Congratulations were due to the Year 8 pupils whose work was selected for the front and back covers.
Ms N Gilmore continued in her appointment as an Assistant Moderator at AS level Art and Design and Ms P Cunningham resumed her position as an Assistant Moderator at A2 level Art and Design.
The department continues to offer after school tuition and support for exam students on a weekly basis. We are delighted that Art and Design remains a popular and successful choice in Aquinas and that many of our students pursue Art and Design related courses in further and higher education.
Business Studies Throughout the academic year 2009-2010 Business Studies students enjoyed a variety of guest speakers and practical activities as part of their studies. All Year 11, 12, 13 and 14 Business Studies students are to be commended for their excellent achievements.
Eight ‘A2’ students participated in the IFS ProShare Student Investor Challenge which involved investing a virtual £100,000 in a set of stocks. Students were encouraged to make good investment decisions. All stock market data was genuine live data. The students developed important skills, such as working as a team, planning, budgeting and taking responsibility. All AS and A2 students also attended a revision course held in the Dublin Road cinema, Belfast. This was extremely beneficial, particularly regarding the new A2 pre-release research task.
A group of fifteen Year 13 students participated in the Young Enterprise Company Programme which aims to inspire young people to develop attitudes and skills for personal success, life-long learning and employability. Students gain practical experience of business and enterprise through setting up and running their own real company. The students were extremely successful, winning the ‘Most Innovative Product’ award and the Michelin award for ‘Most Environmentally Friendly Product’ at the Ballymena Trade Fair. They achieved the ‘Innovation’ award in the Belfast & Castlereagh Area finals. Our thanks go to our superb business advisors. Congratulations also go to our students on their wonderful results in the OCR Level 2 Certificate in Enterprise examination in conjunction with this programme. Overall the students achieved eight distinctions, five credits and two passes in this examination.
As part of National Enterprise Week, AS level students participated in the Young Enterprise Entrepreneurship Masterclass which was held in the La Mon Hotel, Belfast. This included a ‘Business Plan’ competition which was extremely good fun. This experience proved to be both fruitful and enjoyable.
Year 12 GCSE Business Studies pupils enjoyed a field trip to Tayto Castle which provided much relevant information regarding their coursework. They observed the production process and got great pleasure from tasting various types and flavours of crisps and corn snacks.
Year 11 GCSE Business Studies students participated in a number of programmes including a ‘Success Skills’ seminar which was delivered in conjunction with Young Enterprise NI. This was an extremely enjoyable group based activity which developed many employability skills. For the first time ever the Year 11 students also completed a unitised examination which is worth 35% of their overall GCSE qualification. The results were very pleasing.
Year 10 pupils again experienced a ‘taster’ Business Studies course. They participated in the ‘Young Enterprise Project Business’ programme. This encourages links with local industry and pupils became involved in a wide range of topics and activities. It is hoped that these links with local industry will continue in future years.
Careers Education The Careers Department has excellent accommodation in the form of an office and spacious resource area for class work and research. We have access to the internet which is vital for relevant careers information, university application systems and choice of courses.
Learning for Life and Work is well established and includes an eight week module entitled Employability for all year eight, year nine and year ten students. Employability is an integral part of GCSE Learning for Life and Work and the minimum entitlement for all year eleven students.
Year Ten students received a training day leading up to their choices for GCSE in March. The day was entitled Options for the Future and was held in association with Sentinus.. Class tutors, year head and careers teachers delivered the day. This training helped the students to reflect on where they are now in relation to their studies and encouraged them to think about the choices they will need to make for their future.
A training day was held for all year twelve students entitled Key Decisions Day. The day was delivered by Sentinus, the tutors, year head and careers teachers. Students were introduced to the UCAS website, various careers software packages and taught how to market themselves to potential employers and universities in the future.
Heads of Department contributed to an Options Booklet. This contained relevant information about all GCSE specifications and the format under which options would be organised. Coursework implications and requirements were outlined. A joint Options Evening for GCSE and GCE was held in March when parents and pupils were able to seek clarification on matters of concern.
An Advanced Level Booklet was produced with contributions from Heads of Department. This outlined comprehensively the nature and content of Advanced Level Specifications. All students made provisional choices in April.
Each Lower Sixth student participated in a one-week work experience placement in February. The rationale behind the programme is to help students see what a chosen career could offer, to gain self awareness, confidence and the sense of responsibility needed in work and to provide greater incentive and motivation to work in school. The experience was preceded by classes, which prepared students for the experience. The work experience programme was very successful and should help students in developing their personal career plan (PCP). Year thirteen students also attended a UCAS conference at the King’s Hall, Belfast in February to prepare them for imminent university applications.
The bulk of work with Upper Sixth students comprised of arranging applications through UCAS (University and Colleges Admission Service), CAO, (Central Applications Office) and admissions to further education and higher education colleges. The enormous administrative task was accomplished successfully by a team effort from careers staff, tutors, senior management and the office staff. All UCAS and CAO applications were completed on-line and on time.
Individual guidance was on offer for all who made requests. In November, The Knights of Columbanus in association with the Careers Department held mock-interviews for forty students who were applying for courses which had an interview element for admittance.
We also had successful trips for all Upper Sixth students to the open days at Queens University and the University of Ulster. The careers department was on hand to deal with individuals when results were published in August and important decisions had to be made.
Drama Department After several months of rehearsal, the school musical production ‘Calamity Jane’ was successfully staged on Tuesday 13 October 2009 (Matinee Performance) for our year 8-10 pupils together with pupils from our feeder primary schools. This was followed by three public performances of the show from Wednesday 14 October to Friday 16 October 2009. The number of pupils who participated in various aspects of the production e.g. performance, design, technical was staggering and reflects the level of pupil support for this cross curricular event. Ms Gould and myself were extremely pleased with the very positive parental response to the production as a showcase for the outstanding talent of our pupils.
On the Open Morning, our year 11 GCSE drama students performed a unique hand mime as an example of ‘black light’ theatre. This was a departure from the usual scripted and devised productions staged on such occasions, a real visual spectacle and one much appreciated by the very large numbers of pupils and parents who made a special point of calling into the DLT to see the performance.
During the year, the department continued to host the lunch time drama club which is open to all our junior pupils. Senior pupils were brought to see live theatre performances of the Brecht play, ‘The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui’ in the Waterfront Hall and to the St Joseph’s production of ‘Blood Brothers’. Plans were put in place for a 2 day drama department trip to London for our GCSE examination pupils to see a West End musical production. The final dates for the visit were agreed as 16/17 September 2010.
We are continuing to expand the number of pupils who are being trained in the use of the computerised lighting and sound equipment in the assembly hall. This training is being delivered by two of our current year 14 pupils.
Preparations continued during the year to revise schemes of work based upon the new A2 Theatre Studies specification. In keeping with the school’s assessment policy and the pilot Data Tracking initiative, the year 8 drama schemes were also revised and re-written in a newly agreed format providing clear instruction and advice on the success criteria for each assessment task.
The summer 2010 examination results at both GCSE and A level were very pleasing.
The experiences of students studying English Language and English Literature continue to reflect the creativity and expertise of the teachers within the department. Subject enrichment continued through attendance at several events throughout the year.
Students in the department achieved wonderful success as they took part in competitions such as the Belfast City Council’s Litter competition and, notably, a winner in the Cinemagic script writing competition. The department’s involvement with the Citizenship Foundation’s Bar Mock Trial competition met with further success as Aquinas students were again awarded the overall winners of the Northern Ireland heat for the second year running, narrowly missing out on the national title at this year’s final in Edinburgh.
The Shakespeare Festival continues to grow and the experience of dramatising Shakespeare’s plays is as infectious as ever among our year 8 and 9 students. Year 10 students joined the BBC’s School report Live this year for the first time – an invaluable insight into the world of media and journalism - The English Department also enjoyed participation in the annual Animation Project collaborating with several other departments to again, produce a high standard of innovative animations - all further evidence of our commitment to enriching the learning experiences of young people within our subject and beyond.
National poetry day was celebrated by original readings from staff and students alike and the standard of entries continues to amaze and delight everyone involved. Indeed, many of our students have had their work published in the Young Writers collection – Past Poets – Future Voices.
Students were also taken to a local production of Brian Friel’s Dancing at Lughnasa and several other theatre visits are planned as we look to develop this experience.
Areas for development identified for 2010-11
Revision of Key Stage 3 Schemes of Work
We aim to revise these so the pupils are better prepared for the demands of the revised GCSE English Language and English Literature specifications while still promoting the enjoyment of the subject catered for by the NI Curriculum. Ideas include introducing controlled assessment at KS3, stressing the importance of producing final draft quality with every piece of work and studying more poetry in the Junior school to better prepare the pupils for the unseen poetry element at GCSE. We will standardise work internally and share teaching ideas together to keep the subject at Key Stage 3 interesting and demanding.
New GCSE Specifications
In September we will begin teaching the revised specifications for GCSE English Language and English Literature. These have significant changes from the legacy specifications and so as a Department, we have drawn up a proposed schedule for the teaching of texts, completion of Controlled Assessment and sitting of modular exams (one module in both English Language and English Literature at the end of Year 11). We will review and evaluate this schedule at the end of 2010-11 academic year.
GCSE and A Level Results
Similar to this academic year, we hope to further improve GCSE and A Level grades, especially A*-B percentages. We would hope that our knowledge of the entire A Level Revised Specification should help to improve A Level grades.
Geography The Aquinas Geography Department had another successful year in giving pupils a good breadth of experience both within the classroom and outside. Pupils received quality teaching and learning of good Geographical content whilst at the same time acquiring the Personal Skills and capabilities and Core Skills as outlined in the Revised Curriculum.
We incorporated new fieldwork tasks into the Geography Curriculum this year which have proved very popular. Staff agreed that these experiences have enhanced the pupils’ learning in Geography.