St Patrick's Grammar School, Armagh

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St Patrick's Grammar School
Scoil Ghramadaí Naomh Pádraig
Address
Cathedral Road
Armagh, Co. Armagh, BT617QZ
Northern Ireland
Information
Type Non-selective Voluntary grammar school
Motto Fratres in Unum
Religious affiliation(s) Roman Catholic
Established 1838
Chairman of Board of Governors Mr. F Corvan
Principal Mr. Dominic Clarke
Staff 100+
Gender All-male
Age 11 to 18+
Enrollment 1100
Colour(s) Red, green         
Website

St Patrick's Grammar School (Irish: Scoil Ghramadaí Naomh Pádraig), Armagh, is a Roman Catholic boys' non-selective voluntary grammar school in the city of Armagh, Northern Ireland. The present-day school was officially opened on Thursday 27 October 1988 by the late Cardinal Tomás Ó Fiaich, the then Chairman of the Board of Governors, and was the result of the amalgamation of two of Northern Ireland's oldest grammar schools, Christian Brothers' Grammar School and St. Patrick's College, both of which had traditions stretching back as far as the 1830s.

The school once again went through an expansion in 2014-2015, this time with the closure of St. Brigid's High School. The school moved away from academic selection with immediate effect, leaving St Patricks the last Catholic Grammar School to abandon academic selection in the Armagh and Craigavon area after St Michaels Lurgan ended academic selection after amalgamating with two other schools in Lurgan to form St Ronan's College. Enrollment at St. Patrick's was expanded to 1250 to facilitate the closure and £3 million site renovations began in October 2015 to enhance facilities.

The Chairman of the Board of Governors is Mr. F Corvan. The school Leadership Team consists of Principal, Mr. Dominic Clarke, Vice-Principals Mr J. Herron and Mrs A. Quinn and Extended Leadership Team, Mr D. McAlary (Head of Sixth Form), Mrs J.A. Denvir (Head of KS4) and Mrs R.A. Slane (Head of KS3). The school is situated in the vicinity of St Patrick's Roman Catholic Cathedral.

History of St. Patrick's[edit]

St Patrick's College[edit]

St Patrick's College, Armagh, was established as a junior seminary on Armagh's Sandy Hill by Archbishop Crolly and was under the direction of diocesan priests until 1861, when the Vincentian Order was invited to take charge of the school. The Vincentians continued their apostolate in Armagh until the amalgamation.

Christian Brothers' Grammar School[edit]

The Irish Christian Brothers arrived in Armagh in 1851 at the invitation of Archbishop Cullen, who was later to be Ireland's first Cardinal. Within a few years the Christian Brothers acquired the Greenpark site and primary and secondary schools were established. Christian Brothers' Grammar School, Greenpark, built up a strong academic and sporting tradition. When the Vincentian Order signified their intention to withdraw from Armagh, the late Cardinal Tomas O' Fiaich requested the Irish Christian Brothers to become joint trustees of the new amalgamated school. The work in education started by Archbishop Crolly in 1838 was to continue on Sandy Hill. Cardinal O' Fiaich was succeeded as Chairman of the Board of Governors by Cardinal Daly in 1991, by Cardinal Brady in 1997 and by Mr. Frank Corvan.

In 2016 Fr. Kevin Donaghy announced his retirement as Headmaster of St. Patrick's after 17 years in the post. He is the last Catholic Priest Headmaster in Northern Ireland. Mr. Dominic Clarke of the Sacred Heart College in Omagh was appointed the first lay Headmaster in the 180 year history of St Patrick's for the 2016/2017 academic year.

Site renovation[edit]

The school was awarded £4 million for site renovation in October 2013 [1] to include an extension to the school canteen and school meals kitchen, new home economics classrooms, an extension to facilitate a relocated staffroom and refurbishment of classrooms, PE departments and general schools buildings as well as permission for 4 mobile classrooms.[2] The contract was awarded to GEDA construction and they began work on site in October 2015.

Life at St. Patrick's[edit]

Languages[edit]

At St. Patrick's all students from years 8-10 study languages and most student will go on to study languages at GCSE and A-level. There are three languages offered at St. Patrick's,

In years 8-9 all students study French and Irish, with the top ability students also studying Spanish as a third language in Year 10. Students will have up to two hours a week for each language. At GCSE, most students go on to study at least one language with some students availing of the opportunity to take more than one. Also, at A-level some students choose to continue studying a language further. These students usually have eight classes per week, alongside two conversation classes with the school's language assistants. Every language at St. Patrick's has a fluent language assistant.

Students who speak a first language other than English are often entered for a GCSE in their first language in order to maximise the number of GCSEs they achieve.

Extra-curricular activities[edit]

Some extra-curricular societies of the school include the debating society, St. Vincent De Paul and groups of the music department.

Extra-curricular groups in the music department include the school orchestra, steel band, traditional group, and choir, each of which has a day allocated for practice for one hour after school. The department takes part in the new 'Soundstart Project.' Every year 8 and year 9 class are part of this. For one class every week they learn an orchestral instrument from all sections of the orchestra, as well as African drums. They are taken by professional tutors, assuring that every pupil can leave year 9 able to play an instrument and read music.

The music groups play an annual spring concert in the Market Place Theatre, along all the groups from Soundstart. The main music groups also tour around the country. The steel band has performed in places as prestigious as the Waterfront Hall as well as playing on radio shows. The band has participated in competitions in Jamaica and Spain. The orchestra and traditional group have also toured in Spain. The choir sings regularly in mass services and competitions.

  • Sports department

Sports include basketball, cross-country running, gaelic football, golf, handball, hurling, squash and swimming. The school hosts an annual sports day towards the end of each academic year.

In 1923 the headmaster of St Patricks and St Macartans Monaghan held a gaelic match between the two schools and where later joined by St Patrick’s Cavan, St Columb’s Derry, St Malachy’s Belfast, and St Colman’s Newry. The Macrory Cup was originally open to boarding schools, but in 1954, Abbey CBS became the first day school to win the cup. St Patricks dominated the Cup in the earlier years winning the cup from 1923–29, 1931, 1944–47 and 1953. After a 47-year wait, St Patricks won the cup in 2000. St Patricks have won the Macrory Cup 14 times second only to St Colman's Newry. In 2007 and 2012, the school reached the semi-final stage of the MacRory Cup. In 1934, 1936, 1938, 1943, 1950–1952, 1957, 1967, 1994 and 1997 the school reached the final of the Gaelic football competition. The school was the first winner of the All-Ireland Colleges competition the Hogan Cup.

Excursions[edit]

It has been traditional for first year students to attend a residential retreat (typically Killowen, Carlingford or Todd's Leap) at the beginning of their academic life at St. Patrick's. At the end of a student's seven years at St. Patrick's they are invited to attend a religious retreat and the school's annual formal.

The school's language department has developed links with European countries to facilitate exchange programs. The school's Irish department promotes Gaeltachts to the Irish language students throughout KS3, GCSE and A Level.

The Physical Education department took a group of students to Canada.

School Aid Romania (SAR)[edit]

School Aid Romania was set up in 1990 with two main aims: to assist children in need in Romania and to bring together pupils from schools and communities in Northern Ireland. School Aid Romania's objectives are to contribute to the development of community relations and mutual understanding between young people in Northern Ireland and to secure, by joint ventures, material assistance to relieve poverty and improve the well-being of young people in Romania. The staff who accompany students to Romania are Mrs U. Lennon and Mr N. King. Irish TV visited the school in January 2016 to interview Year 14 students who visited Romania in 2015.

St. Patrick's Grammar has been involved in SAR since 1993 and travels to Brasov with Cookstown High School. The school has hosted visitors from schools, hospitals, orphanages and the Inspectorate in Brasov. The SAR group in St. Patrick's has arranged for physiotherapists and teachers of special needs to travel to Brasov and work with children in Timis.

Amalgamation with St Brigid's[edit]

It was announced in March 2014 that St. Patrick's was to merge with St Brigid's High School Armagh as the Armagh school was set for closure. This allowed all Catholic boys to attend St. Patrick's, which from September 2014 no longer used academic selection.[3] St. Patrick's is now an all-ability school which accepts all young boys from Armagh and surrounding areas regardless of academic ability. This is to provide students with the best possible education and increase opportunities to study a range of subjects at GCSE to met the qualification reforms for Northern Ireland.[4]

Innovations[edit]

In recent years, St. Patrick's has been among the first schools in the United Kingdom and Ireland to pioneer new technologies.

In 2003 the school's finance department launched a cashless card system which facilitates the purchasing of food and water from the school cafeterias and from the onsite stationery shop. The intention of such an innovation was to reduce queuing times. From September 2008 the system has been further enhanced so that students no longer require cashless cards but simply a fingerprint to access their money. The system was also integrated with library software to enable students to borrow books without the need for a library card.

In 2004, the school was among the first in Northern Ireland to boast Class Room 2000 (C2K) technologies with every classroom containing an interactive Promethean whiteboard, a data projector (with television and DVD capabilities) and a networked computer with access to the Internet, e-mail and educational software.

Academic achievements[edit]

Students of St. Patrick's have achieved exemplary public examination results with pupils often attaining recognition for achieving top grades in Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom. Pupils of Mr. Gerard Cullen (Head of Business Studies & Economics) have on four occasions managed to attain the best GCSE score in the subject in Northern Ireland along with a second and third at GCSE, a first, third and sixth at A-Level, and a litany of other related awards.[citation needed]

During summer 2006 exam season students at St. Patrick's achieved exemplary results in their GCSE and A-Level subjects, making it the top all boys grammar school in Northern Ireland and fifth overall.

Summer 2008 heralded further success for St. Patrick's with twenty-seven of its students attaining straight As in three or more A-Levels. Five students achieved four grade As, whilst one student attained five.

In 2016 St. Patrick's Grammar was named the top all boys Grammar school in the North according to A level results.

Notable alumni[edit]

References[edit]