School Learning Ethos
The foundation of our learning policy is a student centred approach throughout the curriculum. Central to this policy is our encouragement of autonomous learning and of empathy for others working in the same classroom.
Every student is challenged and supported through: high expectations; the effective use of in-class support; effective differentiation of learning activities; and a planned balance of individual work, paired work, group work and whole-class teaching.
In year 8, students work in all-ability groups across all subjects. In subsequent years, students are set for some subjects as appropriate, in preparation for subjects in which there is tiered entry at GCSE.
Our priority is to provide a curriculum which will challenge and support all our students in an 11-18, integrated, academically excellent, coeducational, all-ability school. Within each area of study, every opportunity is taken to reflect the processes of integration.
All students study English and English literature, mathematics, the sciences, technology, history, geography, art, music, drama, physical education, integrated and religious studies, information technology, home economics, two modern languages. Languages currently offered are French, German, Irish and Spanish. All of these subjects are available at GCSE along with further mathematics, business and communication, digital technology, learning for life and work, moving image arts, food and nutrition and British/Irish Sign Language. As part of the Learning for Life and Work programme, all students also study employability, personal development and global citizenship.
A level courses are available in English literature, mathematics, further mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, engineering, history, geography, politics, French, German, Spanish, Irish, art, performance art, music, moving image arts, philosophy and ethics, business studies, sports studies, health and social care, travel and tourism, public services, digital technology, software systems development.
All subject areas make use of our excellent information technology facilities, which are networked throughout the college through C2K and are fully accessible from home. All students study ICT during the first three years in order to ensure that they will be able to make confident use of computers across the curriculum. Moving Image Arts students have access to a dedicated AppleMac room, cameras and editing facilities. Students and staff use Google Classroom, subject specific apps and learning platforms and Facebook and Twitter accounts.
In addition to wanting an integrated education for their children, parents want academic and pastoral excellence.
Among our founding year students from 1994 there are: graduates from a wide range of disciplines including medicine, veterinary science, law, engineering, and technology; successful entrepreneurs; and Shimna Integrated College teaching and support staff, parents and governors.
We work in close partnership with Queen's University, and we have student members of Queen's Junior Academy, Queen's Sports Academy and Queen's Senior Academy. The partnership offers our students opportunities to travel regularly to Queen's to take part in workshops across the academic disciplines, and in the Senior Academy, to avail of specialist academic tutoring and mentoring. Our students have won places at university summer schools at Oxford and Cambridge, Edinburgh Herriot Watt,at Liverpool John Moores and at University College, London. They have won places on the Queen's University Pathways Programme, Villiers Park, Cambridge specialist subject weeks and have attended British Medical Council workshops.
In our very first year of GCSE results, Shimna students topped the performance tables in the SEELB. Those first results have been bettered by our students in every year since then. Such excellent results are a tribute to the students themselves. The results are also a tribute to an inspirational teaching staff and to the support and confidence of their parents.
We pride ourselves on the breadth of our A level provision and the range of study options taken up by our students at university and in the new Higher Level Apprenticeships through Queen's and Ulster University with local and international employers.
Above all we pride ourselves that Shimna’s results have been achieved in an all-ability context, where all students are entered for at least nine subjects at GCSE, achieving a pass rate for the college of 99%. Performance tables can lead schools to dissuade students from entering for the full range of subjects, but at Shimna we are vindicated in our policy of high expectations for every student.
Our specialisation in modern European languages, with all students studying two languages from French, German, Irish and Spanish;
our Global Learning Programme work;
Our Habitat for Humanity project which has seen our students and staff build sanitation projects in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and travel to Delhi, India and to Romania to build homes alongside the local community;
Our work with the Fairtrade Schools Programme;
Our video project, "Refugee Voices";
our video project with members of minority faiths represented in Northern Ireland;
our Italian and Polish provision for native speakers;
our twin school arrangement with: Germany; France; Spain;
our success in winning scholarships for our students attending the Gaeltacht;
our links with the Muslim community through the Belfast Mosque;
our well-established Amnesty International group which has worked on international anti-death penalty and firearms campaigns and has adopted prisoners of conscience in Tibet and Mexico;
our annual whole-school languages day, featuring teaching through French, Irish, German, Spanish and Cantonese;