Dear Parents & Carers,
Summer term is a time for reflection and taking stock. Naturally, a huge amount of effort has been expended in preparing for and taking public and school examinations. Students and staff have done their best and we hope for positive outcomes on results day.
It has been equally heartening to witness our students engaging in so many positive and meaningful activities in recent weeks, including a superb three-day careers programme for Year 13; the highly successful Gold and Bronze Duke of Edinburgh expeditions; the inaugural Shimna Open Tennis Championship; three of our Year 12 students Aurora Milligan, Jana Pobloth and Sophie Waddell performing a sold-out show at the West End; the magnificent Sports’ Day; the Music and Performing Arts trip to London; and, over the past few days, a fantastic Activities Week.
Alongside this, there have been numerous examples of social responsibility: our Prince’s Trust students supporting - and partying with - residents of the Donard Fold; the Amnesty Group’s fund-raising efforts for NI Hospice; and for various refugee charities; thirty of our Year 11 and 12 students involved in the EA’s Horizons programme promoting youth leadership in the community; and regular litter picks in the local area.
Thank you to our outgoing Student Leadership Team in Year 14, who made a positive contribution this year, and to our Young Ambassadors, many of whom turned out time and time again for events like our Open Evening, P6 Day and Year 8 Induction.
All of the above bears witness to the enduring strength of our culture and ethos.
Our student publication team has produced its own review of the year - click on the link to read the summer term edition of Shimna Scoop.
On that note, I want to say a huge thank you for your ongoing support. The multiple daily interactions between my staff and parents and carers underlines the importance of our mutually supportive relationship. If your child is in Year 12 or 14 and they are moving on from Shimna, we wish them all the very best for the future and hope they will keep in touch.
I am determined to build on this relationship and am particularly conscious that feedback on academic progress has been somewhat constrained due to industrial action - one of the many regrettable consequences of the chronic under-funding of education in Northern Ireland. We are currently working on a plan for parental consultations next year. In addition, the Parent Council will be relaunched in the autumn, as well as a pilot well-being project to engage parents and carers with the work of our resilience programme. More to follow on these at the start of next term.
Likewise, we will be commencing our thirtieth anniversary celebrations from the start of the new school year. We are planning an exciting programme of events to mark this joyous event, culminating in the move into our new school building, all being well by September 2024.
The end of the year is also a time for goodbyes and tributes. Two of our colleagues are retiring after long and distinguished service and will be greatly missed.
Derek Bailey has been at Shimna from its very foundation in 1994. Like the founding parents, he took a leap of faith to join the College. Over the years, he has had an immeasurably positive impact on the lives of students and colleagues alike. He served as Head of Science for twenty-five years, establishing the Department as a centre of excellence. His legacy includes the appointment of two former students, Lorna Jess and Daniel Allen, as Chemistry teachers, and another Science teacher, Ruairi Leckey, joining in September.
Derek will feature in a forthcoming film, commissioned for our anniversary celebrations, which will tell the story of our foundation. He may well be retiring but we fully intend to keep in touch and to continue drawing on his experience and many talents.
Ruth Byrne, who has been with us for 19 years, has been widely hailed as ‘one of the best classroom assistants to walk through the doors of Shimna College’. She is universally admired for her kind heart, compassion and common sense. She helped to set a standard in her area which has been much emulated but rarely matched.
Alan McDonnell (Head of Chemistry) is taking a career break to work in industry. Alan is an exceptional teacher and subject leader so, while we hope he gains plenty of benefit in his new role, we hope to be welcoming him back in the future. We are also saying goodbye to Fiona Bell (Teacher of English) and Grainne O’Rawe (Teacher of History), both of whom made excellent contributions to their Departments. Michaela Quinn (Classroom Assistant) is leaving us embark on a teacher training course. Shirley McMillan, our Alternative Chaplain, is also finishing at Shimna. Her pioneering work with our GSA will be long remembered.
We wish all of our departing colleagues the very best of luck in the future.
New staff will be introduced in the September edition of Shimna News.
Glasgiven’s construction team is making great progress with the building of our new school. Work over the break may, at times, temporarily restrict access to the site but, from September, we look forward to the restoration of parking capacity.
We are delighted to announce Glasgiven as sponsor of the Shimna Summer Scheme, which runs over the first three weeks of July. We thank them for their generosity.
Getting ready for next year
We are extremely proud of our Shimna uniform in our Uniform Policy. This has been recently updated by the Board of Governors following a wide-ranging consultation.
The Shimna uniform was designed by the founding parents and carers to be gender neutral and to offer a degree of choice for students.
We have five suppliers across the district which provide key uniform pieces.
Rhoda Stewart, Ballynahinch
Unbranded items of clothing such as white shirts and straight and pleated skirts in school grey may be sourced elsewhere.
In line with health and safety advice and for insurance purposes, it is important to limit the potential for injury regarding jewellery. The updated Policy allows:
Ear and nose facial jewellery, which must be flat/studded and removable. No other facial jewellery is permitted
Rings which must be removable
All jewellery must be removed for practical subjects and safely stored by the students.
The Summer break is an opportunity to read for pleasure. Recommended reading lists for Key Stage 3 and older students are linked. The https://schoolreadinglist.co.uk/ is another valuable source of ideas. For the more adventurous, there are opportunities to enter competitions at https://poetrysociety.org.uk/competitions/foyle-young-poets-of-the-year-award/ and https://creativewritingink.co.uk
The College can also arrange lessons with peripatetic Music teachers and we have some availability for September. Please contact Mrs Fitzpatrick (Head of Music & Performing Arts) if you wish to apply.
Friday 30 June End of academic year
28 July - 7 August College closed (reopens on Tuesday 8 August)
Thursday 17 August Sixth Form Results Day ( doors open at 9.00 am )
Thursday 24 August GCSE Results Day
Wednesday 30 August Year 13 Induction
Thursday 31 August Year 8 and Year 14 Induction
Friday 1 September First day of College year for all students
Wednesday 4 October Anniversary Celebration event
Friday 27 October Half term starts
Monday 6 November College reopens for second half of term
Thursday 21 December End of term
Best wishes to you all for a happy and restful summer.