Learning from each other
Dear Parents & Guardians,
It’s been a busy and broadly positive first half of term, as demonstrated by the many inspiring stories on our website. It is heartening to see students working hard in their studies, participating in extra-curricular activities, taking part in school trips and acting kindly and responsibly.
There are, of course, areas for development and, as always, challenges. We are under no illusions about the long-term impact of the disruption caused by the pandemic, which cannot be rectified quickly or easily.
Thankfully, however, the day-to-day business of College life is normalising, largely thanks to the good behaviour of our students, the dedication of our staff and the support of parents and carers. A visible example of this can be seen in the successful return to a high standard of uniform. Thank you for your part in this.
Another key aspect, as highlighted in the last two editions of Shimna News, has been our own internal reorganisation, with the appointment of the Senior Leadership Team, the Heads of Year and Mr Milligan as the leader of our Resilience Programme. They may not thank me for saying it but, collectively, they have brought to bear 200 years’ worth of invaluable Shimna experience in their enhanced roles.
Last week I had the privilege of meeting Principals of integrated schools across Northern Ireland at the annual APTIS conference. It was an invaluable opportunity to share experiences. Uppermost in the minds of all school leaders are the challenging times in which we live, not least the financial pressures facing households.
We continue to offer free breakfasts and our uniform store is always open for requests and donations. You can also contact Karen Maguire, our Bursar, if you need to discuss in confidence any pressures in meeting school costs. We will endeavour to find ways to work through these challenges together.
On the same subject, the charitable endeavours of our students, as seen in the fund-raising and collections organised by our Amnesty group and the Prince’s Trust, are wholly admirable.
Opportunities for student leadership
Shimna has a proud tradition of giving students leadership opportunities, with the Peer Mentor scheme an excellent example. We have been working on ways to build on this and to give students a more representative voice in the College. Earlier this term, ten of our Year 14 were appointed to serve as the Student Leadership Team. Led by Saoirse Cassidy Dawson and Uisce Daley, they have made a fine start.
Applications are now open for students in Years 8 to 12 to apply to become Young Ambassadors. This new scheme will build on the good work of the previous Student Council, as well as giving recognised roles supporting extra-curricular activities and assisting with public events like Open Days. Similarly, Sixth Form students are invited to join a new Senior Prefect team, with opportunities to work closely with staff. Click on the links to read Role Descriptions.
Application Forms can be accessed here:
If your child is interested in any of these roles, please encourage them to apply by Wednesday 9 November.
After half term we will also invite students to join a new Student Publications team, with the aim of starting up a College newspaper. This will be an outlet for creative writing and other artistic work.
In this week’s assemblies our world champion rowers gave inspiring presentations on their endeavours in the Netherlands in July.
Opportunities for parent and carer engagement
As mentioned in the previous edition of Shimna News, a Governors’ Working Group is undertaking a review of uniform and has already met with the Student Leadership Team. After the break, it will be inviting the views of parents and carers.
As is the experience of other Integrated Colleges, it proved difficult to maintain a Parent Council during the pandemic. We are committed to its re-launch and are currently working with NICIE to ensure it is properly constituted and put on a firm footing. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Anne Norwood who gave loyal service to the Parent Council over many years.
Health & Safety update
Work has been ongoing over recent months to upgrade our fire safety procedures. This has included student briefings, delivered by Form Teachers, on how to safely evacuate the building in the event of a fire alarm.
Thank you to parents and carers for keeping the College updated on medical conditions. One issue that has arisen relates to students recorded as asthmatic on our system. If your child has asthma, please ensure they bring their inhaler to school.
Since the summer, we have a made a number of new appointments to our team of Classroom Assistants. They have fitted in seamlessly and I thank them for their positive contribution.
Key dates after half term
The next series of GCSE examinations will take place in November. The timetable is posted here on the website - https://www.shimnaintegratedcollege.org/examinations-office
Please note the College will be closed on 1 and 2 December.
Thursday 1 December: Parent Consultations for Years 12, 13 and 14
As a result of union action across schools in Northern Ireland, consultations will now take place during the school day. Further information on how to book an appointment will follow after the break.
Friday 2 December: P7 Day
Monday 5 - Friday 9 December ( exact dates to be confirmed ): Winter Exams for Years 8-11
Thursday 5 - Monday 9 January: Mock Examinations for the Sixth Form
Tuesday 24 January - Friday 3 February: Mock Examinations for Year 12
Breaking News: our new school building
The wait is almost over. Later today I will be meeting with the Project Manager and representatives from the construction firm, Glasgiven Contracts. The new build is due to start soon; over half term work on a perimeter fence around the construction site will begin. Further information will follow after the break.
After all their efforts over recent weeks, students and staff deserve a good rest. I wish you and your family a happy and peaceful mid-term break!