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Shimna News - October 2023

Shimna News

Learning From Each Other


Dear Parents & Carers,

Last week’s anniversary celebration at the Slieve Donard Hotel was a wonderful and uplifting experience. The audience, which included parents, carers and staff from Shimna’s past and present, viewed the premiere of The Shimna Story, a film which captures the memories of those who worked tirelessly to set up the College thirty years ago.

The undoubted highlights of the evening, however, were the performances of our students, which included a variety of drama and musical items and a visual presentation of the school year, led by our Head Girl, Anna Young, and Head Boy, Levi Johnston.

We would like to share this celebratory event with a wider audience and will be running it again next week in the College, on Thursday 19 October at 7.00 pm.

Click on the link if you would like to join us. We promise an evening of great entertainment.

Our Mission, Values & Vision

On 2 October 1993, the Founding Parents agreed thirteen statements as the Guiding Principles for the College.

Our 30th anniversary is a timely opportunity to take stock and to refresh the language by adopting mission, values and vision.

  • Our mission statement will communicate our purpose

  • Our values will describe what we believe in and the behaviours we display and expect

  • Our vision will set out our aspirations for our students

Over the past few months, with input from staff, students and governors, we have drafted some provisional statements as a way of engaging the Shimna community, which you can read and review by clicking on the link.

We welcome your input and would appreciate your thoughts and responses by Monday 16 October.

Parent Consultations

Like other public services, the education sector continues to face significant challenges due to chronic under-funding. Teaching unions have been united in their calls for government action, thus far to no avail, and members are currently observing action short of strike.

While this places certain constraints on the frequency of our reporting to parents and carers, we will be running online Parent Consultations on Friday 27 October. These will be for all year groups with their respective Form Teachers. It is primarily a pastoral check-in, including the opportunity to share feedback on the first half of term. The appointment booking form will be sent out next week.

To facilitate this, the College will be closed to students on that day. Thursday 26 October will be a normal school day for all students. The College will reopen after the half-term break, on Monday 6 November.

Parent Council

We are keen to revive our Parent Council, which has been in abeyance for some time. My apologies this hasn’t happened sooner. If you would like to join, please contact Danella Goodman at by Wednesday 25 October.

We would like to hold our first meeting on Tuesday 7 November. Please sign up, even if you cannot attend this first meeting. Arrangements will be confirmed nearer the time.

Parent & Carer Workshops

Thank you to everyone who attended the online safety workshop on Monday evening. Wayne Denner, a leading expert in this field, delivered a highly informative and eye-opening presentation on the challenges of living in our digitally connected world.

Wayne offered practical ABC advice for families around managing Access; setting Boundaries; and having Conversations.

Useful resources can be found here -

Wayne also explains how to use a content filtering tool -

Feedback from the first workshop has been very positive and we plan to run a similar event after half term on a suitably relevant theme.

Attendance matters

We are committed to providing a happy and caring school environment where our students thrive and flourish academically, socially and emotionally. There is a strong correlation between attendance and examination outcomes, but the wider benefits are equally important.

The formation of lifelong learning habits, the ability to make and maintain friendships and relationships, greater self-esteem, and a more active social life outside school are intimately linked with high attendance.

The Department of Education has published a useful guide, which you can access via the link School Attendance Matters - A Parent/Carer's Guide

RSE Consultation

Relationship and Sexuality Education is an important part of our curriculum. It’s also a highly topical subject in education circles at present.

Best practice includes the involvement of parents and carers and so we would be interested in your views via our own dedicated RSE Parent/Carer Consultation

If you have time to be a little more involved, we are forming an RSE Steering Group. Please contact Anne Clarke, Assistant Vice-Principal, at if you would like to join.

More widely, the Department of Education has launched a full consultation across Northern Ireland which runs until 24 November 2023. If you would like to take part, you can access it here Department of Education RSE Consultation

Can you help with student interviews?

At the start of this term, one-to-one conversations were held with Year 12 students to discuss their plans for the coming year and beyond. As part of our careers support, we would like to run an interview skills event on 23 November (provisionally, 3.30-5.00 pm).

If you can offer your time, experience and expertise to this event, please contact Ria Maguire, Head of Careers at

We’re looking for input from a wide range of occupations and professions so thank you in advance for any offers of help.

New staff

Since I last wrote to you, Sarah Samuel has been appointed as Examinations Officer on a permanent basis.

Likewise, Majella Nixon and Michelle Donaghy have also been permanently appointed to the role of Canteen Manager and Assistant Canteen Manager respectively.

Shannon Gibson and Zuzana Small have also joined us as Classroom Assistants.

When it arrives, I hope you have a restful mid-term break as a family.

Kind regards,

Steve Pagan



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