Portadown College

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Portadown College
School Crest
Motto Fortiter Et Humaniter
Established 1924
Type Grammar School
Principal Mr S. Harper
Vice-Principal Ms G. Gibb
Mr P. Richardson
Governors Chairman Mr P. H. Aiken
Location Killicomaine Road
County Armagh
BT63 5BU
Northern Ireland
Students 820 (approx.)
Gender Mixed
Ages 14–18
Houses      MacCallum
Colours Black, Blue
Website Portadown College

Portadown College is an academic selective grammar school in Portadown, County Armagh, Northern Ireland, founded in 1924. The school was established initially in Bann House on the banks of the River Bann, adjacent to the main road bridge of the time. In 1962 the school moved to a new, purpose-built site, on the Killicomain Road. The school previously had a preparatory department until its closure in 2006.[1] The school is unusual in Northern Ireland in that it is one of two schools (the other being Craigavon Senior High School) that only caters for pupils at Key Stage 4.


Portadown College has seen many major changes in education. Originally established as a fee-paying voluntary grammar school, it embraced the changes of The Education (Northern Ireland) Act 1947 and, subsequently, has made a major contribution to the present 'two-tier' system of secondary education in the Craigavon area.

Former Portadown College building, at Bridge Street


# Name Tenure
1 W. J. Warren 1924-1946
2 D. W. J. Woodman BEM 1946-1973
3 T. H. Armstrong 1973-1993
4 T. W. Flannagan 1993-2006
5 D. O'Hare 2006-2009
6 R. S. Harper 2009–present

House system[edit]

The school's pupils are divided into historical houses. The three houses are Shillington (red), Seale (green) and MacCallum (yellow). The house structure provides the basis for a wide range of inter-house competitions, including sports, music and debating.

The houses are named after the following:


Portadown College has been officially recognised in the field of sporting excellence and has been awarded the status of a Sportsmark School.[2] Representative teams participate in Rugby, Boys and Girls Hockey, Netball, Football, Volleyball, Golf, Tennis, Cricket, Rowing and Athletics.

The School Rugby teams compete annually in the Ulster Schools Cup, with the best performance the reaching of the semi-finals. The Subsidiary Shield has been won three times in 1973, 1990 and 1997.[3][4] In 2010 the 1st XV Rugby Team won the Ulster Schools Trophy.[5][6]

Girls' hockey teams enjoy success in the Belfast Telegraph Ulster Schools Cup and McDowell Cup competitions. Portadown College hockey teams have won the trophy on three occasions in 1963, 1964 and the most recent win in 1996.[7][8][9]

The Under 18 Boys Volleyball team are current Northern Ireland and All Ireland Champions and the under 16 Boys Volleyball team are current Northern Ireland and All Ireland Champions. The Under 18 Boys Hockey Team are the current Great British Champions after beating RBAI 2nd XI 4–3 in the final.

School facilities[edit]

Subjects such as geography, home economics and ICT have miscellaneous classrooms throughout the school. There are over 20 subjects taught at the school, which are served by approximately 50 classrooms, subject study rooms and technicians. The school's science department is one of the largest and best-funded science departments in Northern Ireland. It is compulsory for GCSE students to study a modern language subject. The options include, French, Spanish and German. Latin was abolished many years ago as a taught language in the school.

Sports facilities include three rugby pitches, two all-weather pitches, two outdoor basketball courts, two tennis courts, a synthetic cricket pitch, two long jump sand pits and a concrete throwing circle for discus and shot put events. There is also a dedicated sports hall with gym and a second indoor sports hall. Although sport plays a key role in the schools extracurricular activities, there are a number of other societies that include: drama, debating, Air Training Corps, Duke Of Edinburgh Award expedition and charity group

Academic selection[edit]

As with many grammar schools in Northern Ireland academic selection is at the heart of admission to Portadown College. Entry to Portadown College is defined by a system called the Dickson Plan whereby internal entry exams are set to students within each of its feeder schools.

The Dickson Plan is in some regard an analogue of the 11+ but although given students sit internal entrance exams at 14 it is not a direct replacement. From the scrapping of the 11+ in Northern Ireland, some people[who?] are suggesting that the Dickson Plan emerges as a clear ‘model’ to replace the now obsolete 11+, albeit for students at the age of 11.

Notable former pupils[edit]


  1. ^ "Question marks over future of College Prep". 
  2. ^ "Portadown College Newbuild". Northern Ireland Assembly Hansard. 24 March 2009. Retrieved 25 April 2011. 
  3. ^ "Portadown College secure shield success". Portadown Times. 23 March 1990. p. 52. 
  4. ^ "Academy fall to shield defeat". Ballymena Times. 19 March 1997. p. 40. 
  5. ^ "Schools Cup ties rushed forward". Belfast Telegraph. 23 February 2010. Retrieved 25 April 2011. 
  6. ^ "Cambridge House set to be stripped of rugby title?". Ballymena Times. 9 March 2010. Retrieved 25 April 2011. 
  7. ^ Belfast Newsletter. 2 April 1963. p. 9.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  8. ^ Belfast Newsletter. 24 March 1964. p. 10.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  9. ^ Belfast Newsletter. 7 March 1996. p. 34.  Missing or empty |title= (help)

Feeder Schools[edit]

External links[edit]