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					                             Board of Governors of
                        Aquinas Diocesan Grammar School

Name                                 Category

The Most Reverend Donal McKeown DD   Chairman
Auxiliary Bishop of Down & Connor

The Right Reverend Monsignor         Vice Chairman
Thomas Bartley VG                    Trustee Nominee

Mr Kevin McKenna                     Trustee Nominee

Mr John Lilly                        Trustee Nominee

Mrs Frances McNally                  DE Nominee

Mr Gavin Boyd                        DE Nominee

Mrs Helen Hall                       DE Nominee

Mrs Teresa Murphy                    Elected Parent

Mr Patrick McNeill                   Elected Teacher

Mrs Diana Press                      Principal

Aquinas Diocesan Grammar School                        Annual General Report   1
                                     ART AND DESIGN
Aquinas Exhibitions:

GCSE, AS and A2 Level, CCEA “True Colours”, BELB at Belfast Central Library;
Site Screening Project

Aquinas Art and Design GCSE and A2 students exhibited in May ‟05 closely followed by our AS
exhibition in June. We enjoyed excellent results at all three levels and were delighted to welcome staff
and parents to view the evening exhibitions and enjoy the sense of occasion. We were elated when the
work of four GCSE level candidates and one AS level candidate was selected for possible inclusion in
the 2006 “true colours” exhibition of which one unit based on studies of cats was selected for final
display. We look forward to viewing this within the showcase later in the year.

In January 2005 all GCSE, AS and A2 Art and Design students visited the CCEA “true colours”
exhibition. This exhibition profiles the best and most interesting work from GCSE, AS and A2 levels in
Art and Design across Northern Ireland. We were delighted that the work of one Aquinas student (A2
level) was displayed within this prestigious exhibition.

A display of work by our Year 14 students in Belfast Central Library received many compliments and
positive feedback from the public.

The work of four of our AS level students was selected for exhibition on aluminium panels around the
UU Art College as part of The Site Screening Project in association with local artist, Sharon Kelly and
was publicly exhibited from March 2006.

One of our Year 8 students was chosen as the overall winner of the PSNI anti-graffiti competition. The
winning poster was published for display in train stations in the North Down area.

A Year 9 student was selected as runner-up in the Chief Constable‟s Calendar competition for Key
Stage 3 students throughout Northern Ireland. The entry was based on racial awareness and promoted
an inclusive society.

Visitors to the Department
Susan Hughes (past pupil and current final year Fine Art student) and Silva Kruger (artist and German
language assistant) joined the art and design department in a voluntary capacity and assisted with art
classes on a weekly basis.

Susan also gave a fascinating presentation of her current work to a group of Year 11 students and Silva
gave an enjoyable lesson to a Year 8 class on experimental techniques with clay.

The art and design department welcomed Maria McConville as art and design student for
approximately 8 weeks. Maria has produced some great work with Key Stage 3 pupils during this
period. Katie Arup, Graphic Designer, gave an inspirational presentation to Year 13 and 14 students on
her work and starting up her own Graphic Design business. Some of our students are considering
graphic design as a career as a result of this presentation.

Aquinas Diocesan Grammar School                                  Annual General Report           2
Visits Out and About
Year 12, 13 and 14 art and design students visited the RUA Exhibition at the Ulster Museum in
addition to the Naughton Gallery at Queen‟s University to view the UTV collection of Fine Art. We
were taken on a guided tour by Clare Leeman which was enjoyed by all.

We continued our links with St. Mary‟s College, QUB when some of our Year 13 and 14 students
visited their Art and Design Department for an afternoon and were treated to a guided tour by Head of
Department, Mrs. Deirdre McCormick.

Mask Carnival
Year 8 pupils created masks in preparation for a language carnival on Shrove Tuesday. Prizes were
awarded to winners in each practical group and one pupil was awarded overall winner.

We welcomed Laura Carlisle and Cinemagic to Aquinas at Halloween for their screening of War of the
Buttons for Year 8 and 9 pupils in association with the Aquinas Film Club.

Welcome to Aquinas Year 8 Competition
The annual Year 8 competition to design the front cover for the introductory booklet for the in-
coming Year 8 pupils was organised by the Art and Design department. Congratulations to the
Year 8 pupils whose work was selected for the front and back covers.

Hello Dolly
Ms Nicola Gilmore designed the set for Hello Dolly and created the scenery along with Ms
Cunningham and Ms Kellie Mairs in addition to groups of senior art students. The biannual Graphic
Design competition for the Poster and Programme was a great success and we found the standard to be
exceptionally high this year.

Professional Development
Ms P. Cunningham continued in her appointment as an Assistant Moderator at A2 level Art and Design
and Ms Gilmore was appointed as an Assistant Moderator at AS level Art and Design.

Ms Cunningham attended short courses on film-making and digital story-telling and both Ms Gilmore
and Ms Cunningham are keen to investigate the suitability of the Moving Image AS course for possible
delivery within Aquinas.

The department continues to offer after school tuition and support for exam students on a weekly basis.
We are delighted that art and design remains a popular and successful choice in Aquinas and that many
of our students pursue art and design related courses in further and higher education.

Aquinas Diocesan Grammar School                                 Annual General Report           3
                                    BUSINESS STUDIES
Throughout the academic year Business Studies students enjoyed a variety of guest speakers and
practical activities as part of their studies.

Thorough preparation and planning ensured very good results and all Year 12, 13 and 14 Business
Studies students are to be commended for their hard work. Congratulations must go to one of the
students who achieved joint second highest mark in Northern Ireland in GCSE Business Studies.

All „AS‟ and „A2‟ students participated in the IFS ProShare Student Investor Challenge which involved
teams of four students each investing a virtual £100,000 in a set of stocks (from a list of FTSE100
companies) between November 2005 and the end of February 2006. They were charged stamp duty
and commission when buying or selling shares just like in the real world. There was a whole host of
extra information on the IFS website on each company to help students make a good investment
decision. All stock market data was genuine live data, provided courtesy of Bloomberg. The students
discovered for themselves how the Stock Market operates and they developed important skills, such as
working as a team, planning, budgeting, taking responsibility and decision-making.

A group of seventeen Year 13 students participated in the Young Enterprise Company Programme.
This is a programme which aims to inspire young people to develop attitudes and skills for personal
success, life-long learning and employability. Students gain practical experience of business and
enterprise through setting up and running their own real company.

The students were extremely successful, winning „Most Innovative Product‟ award at the Ballymena
Trade Fair, „Best Company‟ in the Belfast & Castlereagh Area and then „Best Overall Company of the
Year‟ in the NI Final. This qualified the team for the UK final which took place in July at the Savoy
Hotel in London and was an amazing experience for all involved. The Managing Director of our
school‟s company received the Saloman Award for „Exceptional Leadership Potential‟ beating off
competition from 3700 other students. This was the first time someone from NI had won the award.
She was also chosen to attend the FedEx Junior Leadership Conference which took place at the end of
July in Florida.

Some AS level students attended a Training Workshop in Stranmillis University College and also
participated in the Entrepreneurship Masterclass which was held in Belfast City Hall. These
experiences proved to be both fruitful and enjoyable.

Year 11 and 12 pupils were provided with opportunities to use the ICT facilities at various times of the
year, including supervised access to the Internet. This facility enabled the pupils to use Microsoft
Word, Excel and Access for coursework purposes, as well as the use of Microsoft Powerpoint for
presentations and Publisher for newspaper articles based on current business matters.

Year 10 pupils again experienced a „taster‟ Business Studies course. They participated in the „Young
Enterprise Project Business‟ programme. This encouraged links with local industry and pupils became
involved in a wide range of topics and activities. Some of our business partners who joined in the
scheme and provided industrial visits were involved in Marketing, as well as from the Public Sector of
the economy. Many of our pupils visited Parliament Buildings at Stormont and really enjoyed the
experience. It is hoped that these links with local industry will continue in future years. The „taster‟
course enabled each pupil to make an informed decision for GCSE with regard to Business Studies.
Thirty seven pupils have chosen to pursue their study to this level.

Aquinas Diocesan Grammar School                                  Annual General Report           4
                                  CAREERS EDUCATION
 The Careers Department has excellent accommodation in the form of an office and spacious resource
area for class work and research. We have access to the internet which is vital for relevant careers
information, university application systems and choice of courses.

Learning for Life and Work, as part of the Pathways reform, is well established and includes an eight
week module entitled Employability for all year eight, year nine and year ten students.

Year ten students also received a training day leading up to their choices for GCSE. The day was
entitled Options for the Future. The class tutors, year head and careers teachers delivered the day. This
training helped the students to reflect on where they are now in relation to their studies and encouraged
them to think about the choices they will need to make for their future.

 A training day was held for all year twelve students entitled Key Decisions Day. The day was delivered
by the tutors, year head and careers teachers. Students were introduced to the UCAS website, various
careers software packages and taught how to market themselves to potential employers and universities
in the future.

Heads of Department contributed to an Options Booklet. This contained relevant information about all
GCSE specifications and the format under which options would be organised. Coursework
implications and requirements were outlined. A joint Options Evening for GCSE and GCE was held in
March when parents and pupils were able to seek clarification on matters concerning them.

An Advanced Level Booklet was produced with contributions from Heads of Department. This
outlined comprehensively the nature and content of Advanced Level Specifications. All pupils made
provisional choices in April.

Each Lower Sixth student participated in a one-week work experience placement in March. The
rationale behind the programme is to help students see what a chosen career could offer, to gain self
awareness, confidence and the sense of responsibility needed in work and to provide greater incentive
and motivation to work in school. The experience was preceded by a module, which prepared students
for the experience. The tutors and careers teachers delivered this module. The work experience
programme was very successful and should help students in developing their personal career plan
(PCP). Year thirteen students also attended a UCAS conference in April to prepare them for university

The bulk of work with Upper Sixth students comprised of arranging applications through UCAS
(University and Colleges Admission Service), CAO, (Central Applications Office) admissions to
further education and higher education colleges. The enormous administrative task was accomplished
successfully by a team effort from careers staff, tutors, senior management and the office staff. All
UCAS and CAO applications were completed on-line.
Individual guidance was on offer for all who requested it. Mock interviews were held for a number of
students who were applying for courses which had an interview element for admittance.

We also had successful trips for all Upper Sixth students to the open days at Queens University and the
University of Ulster. The careers department was on hand to deal with individuals when results were
published in August and important decisions had to be made.

With the implications of the current Curriculum Review, such as the introduction of Citizenship and
Employability, the task is proving very challenging and exciting for all concerned with the delivery of a
meaningful and effective careers programme.

Aquinas Diocesan Grammar School                                  Annual General Report            5
        Computing and Information and Communication Technology

The computing / ICT department consists of four teachers and delivers A Level Computing, AS ICT,
GCSE ICT and Junior ICT.

All pupils in Year 8 received 2 periods of ICT per week and year 9 pupils received 1 period a week.
These classes were used to acquire skills in the use of word-processing, PowerPoint, desk-top
publishing, video editing, web design and the use of the Internet.

In June 2006 9 pupils completed their AS examinations, the results were encouraging with 8 pupils
gaining grades A-E.

Five pupils have opted to continue with computing at A2 level, they will sit the remaining 3 modules in
June 2006, to receive their overall A Level grade.

The A Level results for June 2006 were pleasing. Of the seven pupils entered 86% gained grades A-E.

In June 2006, the Advanced VCE in Information and Communication Technology was available to
Year 13 pupils as an AS subject for the last time and 6 pupils completed this subject all gaining a grade

Our first cohort of GCSE ICT students sat their exams in June 2006. The results were extremely
satisfying with 55% of the candidates receiving an A*, 23% an A grade, 16% a B grade and the
remaining 2 pupils a grade C or D. One of the GCSE ICT pupils has reached the Axioms A star awards,
placing her in the top 10 female ICT students in N. Ireland.

The department has replaced A Level Computing with A Level ICT and 20 Year 13 pupils have
decided to study this subject. 45 Year 11 pupils have opted to study GCSE ICT, and we welcome the
arrival of Mr Sames to the department.

Aquinas Diocesan Grammar School                                  Annual General Report            6

The recently established Drama Club continues to thrive. It meets at lunchtimes in the DLT and
attracts a large number of pupils. The members of the club were again set the task of preparing
rehearsed improvisations for the Open Nights in January 2006. They achieved this goal through their
enthusiasm and determination. The parents of the new pupil intake were suitably impressed and
welcomed the opportunity to talk to the students about their day to day experiences in Aquinas.

In October 2005 we staged a highly successful production of „Hello Dolly‟ which ran for three nights.
As usual we attracted a large cast of pupils from all year groups in the school and it proved a wonderful
experience for all concerned.

During the year we were able to avail of the opportunity to begin to review our KS3 schemes of work
as part of the revised curriculum. This was an exciting opportunity and we managed to complete the
Year 8 programme. It is expected that we will evaluate the schemes for Years 8 and 9 in due course.

Pupils were brought to see live theatre performances throughout the year at the Lyric Theatre and
OMAC. The examination results at GCSE, AS and A2 were very pleasing and reflect a high level of

Aquinas Diocesan Grammar School                                  Annual General Report            7
The English Department enjoyed excellent results at Key Stage 3, GCSE, AS and A2 Levels. The
popularity of the subject continued with over forty pupils pursuing English Literature at AS; forty eight
students successfully completed their studies at A2.

 In October, the AS students were accompanied to The Markethill Theatre, Armagh, to see a matinee
performance of „A Streetcar Named Desire.‟ They later attended a series of lectures on the text at The
University of Ulster in April.

 Also in October, one class of year nine students had the opportunity to collaborate with local poets and
pupils from two other Belfast schools in the „Poetry in Motion‟ project. Aquinas played host to the
event and the pupils performed their group creations for the other schools in the library.

The English Department contributed significantly to the Year 8 Pilot Smoothie Project, in October,
preparing the students in the language of advertising, and in oral presentation skills. This was one of
several inter-departmental projects in which the department was involved. In the third term we worked
alongside the History Department in preparing the year 8 students for a creative writing competition:
„Step Back in Time.‟ Two of the pupils won first and second prize with their submissions; hopefully
they shall attend the award ceremony early in the autumn term 2006-2007. The department began
storyboards with Year 9 pupils as preparation for a cross curricular animation project on the
environment which again will be developed this Autumn term.

The English Department contributed to the success of the annual Book Fair in March, ensuring all
English classes had an opportunity to visit the fair, held in the library, and to enjoy spending their
World Book Day tokens.

As usual, The Shakespeare Festival was a big event on the junior school calendar in March ; the Year 8
and 9 classes performed scenes from a Shakespeare play studied in English and Drama, under the
direction of their teachers and teaching and learning assistants. The adjudication of the performances
added to the sense of occasion. It is hoped the festival shall become a key cross curricular experience in
the new Key Stage 3 curriculum. The department looks with confidence towards the changes ahead in
the curriculum and has made good strides in adapting the current schemes of work accordingly.

The Yearbook proved to be another great success under the leadership of Ms Scally.

Aquinas Diocesan Grammar School                                   Annual General Report            8

A Level
The joint Wellington and Aquinas on-line discussion, which acts as preparation for paper A23,
continued this year and as ever was a great success.

The AS students continued their data collection exercise around Belvoir Park Forest. This acts as
preparation for the AS3 paper. CCEA used work from Aquinas as exemplar material at Agreement

The A2 students continued to visit around Belfast‟s Peacelines as part of their studies in Ethnic
Diversity. They were also able to visit Murlough Nature Reserve as part of their studies on Coasts.

The Year 12 students completed good projects on the Shimna River, which was helped greatly by
having a QUB PhD student who took water samples back to QUB to analyse for water quality. The
Year 11s will also complete this task in the year ahead.

Curriculum and Schemes of Work at KS 3
These schemes are continually being reviewed, especially now in our role as a pilot school in the
revised curriculum.

The video editing exercise in Year 10 worked well again last year as did the Weather Project in Year 9
where we compared the daily temperature on the North side of the school to that of the South side of
the school. The pupils had to write a very short project based on the findings.

Given that this was a „World Cup Year’ we decided to make the most out of all the available resources
and, with our Year 8s, completed wall charts showing information on the participating countries. The
pupils also had to use PowerPoint to present to their colleagues, teacher and LSAs facts about their
chosen country. Here we emphasised: talking and listening skills; working with others; ICT and
generally how to speak in front of large audiences. The exercise took between 1 and 2 months but the
pupils got a lot out of the task.

Since Aquinas is part of the rollout for the Revised Curriculum, the Geography Department intends to
modify schemes so that we emphasise our active learning, assessment for learning and links across

One exciting scheme we‟ve initiated this year is the Environment Matters animation project where the
current Year 10s through Geography, English, Music, Art and ICT create a short animated story about
an environmental issue. This will be completed by the beginning of December.

Aquinas Diocesan Grammar School                                Annual General Report           9
                             GOVERNMENT & POLITICS

The academic year 05/06 was very eventful. The AS-level class consisted of 15 students and the A2
class, 20 students.

The main event of the year was a tour of New York and Washington DC in April 2006 to visit the
political institutions relevant to the A2 specification. Thirty Aquinas students from the AS & A2
Politics classes visited and toured the White House, Congress, Supreme Court and the United Nations
among others.

A spin-off from Politics was a series of after school debates. Students debated issues such as the
pending smoking ban, state assisted suicide/mercy killing and even the existence of Santa Claus!

In the European Studies enrichment programme Lower Sixth students participated in exchanging
projects with our link schools in Sweden, France, Italy and Ireland. In March 2006 four of the students
delivered a presentation to over one hundred teachers from across Europe, at the Slieve Donard Hotel,
and were highly commended. The girls were only one of two school groups asked to do this, the other
being a Swedish school.

Seventy students from our link schools in France and Italy came to Aquinas to visit our European
Studies students in March. We staged a few events for our guests whilst they were in our school.
During the morning they were treated to two workshops – one on refugees and „displaced people‟
across Europe and the world, the other was on prejudice and stereotypes. In the afternoon they toured
Parliament Buildings, Stormont.

Aquinas Diocesan Grammar School                                 Annual General Report           10
Response to and preparation for Pathways
During the academic year 2005-2006 one of the History department‟s main aims was the planning for the
new Pathways curriculum. The staff identified the skills that are taught in History and ways in which we
could ensure our pupils build upon them. To this end we have focused on more active learning
methodologies in the Year 8 curriculum and will be implementing and evaluating some of these strategies in
the academic year 2005 - 2006. We will continue our use of Case Studies and group work presentations in
the Junior School in order to highlight life long learning skills that our pupils will be developing and using,
alongside continued use of ICT strategies such as power-point presentations and Activote. Activote has
enthused our students as well as develop an accurate diagnostic tool for teachers and students to chart their
progress. Ultimately, we are aiming to ensure that we continue to attract the large numbers of students to
study History at both GCSE and A Level as well as greater expertise with our technology to ensure that our
pupils get the continued high standards of teaching within the department.

In preparation for the oncoming Pathway curriculum, the department has developed a series of assessed
homeworks and project work that allows our pupils to develop skills that they will be able to use across the
curriculum. In year 8 students develop their research and ICT skills when investigating the Claims to the
Throne of 1066. In year 9 the students develop their analytical and debating skills when determining Oliver
Cromwell as a Hero or Villain. In Year 10 the students enjoy developing power-point presentations and
websites on topics related to the USA in the 1920s and teaching their peers about that topic.

Connectivity across the Curriculum
During the year the History department linked up with the English Department on a number of occasions to
great effect. In the second term, to coincide with the annual Shakespeare Festival, we developed a study of
Elizabethan Theatres and theatre going. The students were asked to imagine that they were visiting an
Elizabethan Theatre to watch a play and to describe in full in a letter the experience. The students were
expected to use old English, describe the smells, foods and experience of visiting an Elizabethan theatre and
immerse themselves into the character that they had developed. The students‟ letters were then used as part
of a display for the Shakespeare Festival. Both the staff and the students thoroughly enjoyed the experience
and it will be continued next year.

Competitions and Site visits
At the end of year 8 we once again took our students to Carrickfergus Castle for the annual site visit.
However, this time we involved ourselves in a competition called „Step on Time‟. In this competition
students had to imagine life in a castle as one of its possible inhabitants. In conjunction with the English
Department we developed a joint module to build on the pupils‟ imaginative writing skills. This involved
both departments coming together to share resources, approaches and knowledge. All our Year 8 pupils
took part and developed an imaginative piece, which was then word processed. We were delighted that the
competition organisers awarded a number of our Year 8 pupils with first prize. The students and teachers
involved will receive their prizes at a special ceremony in Carrickfergus Castle in October.

Once again the History department got involved with Revision Courses organised by the Somme Centre for
our AS and A level students. The conference involved our students attending lectures of eminent local
historians and also meeting people who had taken part in significant events in the 20th Century. The day at
the Somme centre was a great success as it gave the students a real experience of living history and the
opportunity to listen to renowned local historians. In the next academic year we will once again hope to
avail of this essential opportunity for our students.

The Department continues to achieve excellent academic results at all levels from GCSE through to „A‟

Aquinas Diocesan Grammar School                                      Annual General Report              11
                                  HOME ECONOMICS

Mrs Robinson from the Belfast City Council Environmental department visited the department and
gave a presentation to GCSE and A level classes.

In November Hazel Scott from the Belfast Consumer Advice Centre gave a presentation to A Level
students about consumer law issues. Also in November, 4 Home Economics students took part in the
NI Young Consumer quiz. They achieved 4th place.

In December Norma Gillespie from the Dairy Council gave cookery demonstrations to Year 10, Year
11 and Year 12 classes. Also in December the department was involved in the „think and link‟ cross
curricular smoothie project.

In January, 109 Year 10 students were presented with their Essential Food Hygiene certificates with 3
students achieving 100% in this exam.

In February Year 13 and 14 students went to Loughry College in Cookstown for a Food Technology
Course with Mrs McCrossan and Mr McNeill.

Mrs Martina Evans from UUC joined the department for 14 weeks. We thank her for all her hard work
and commitment and wish her well.

Mrs McCrossan has been part of the CCEA working group for Home Economics within the Pathways
curriculum. The department has written new schemes for Year 8 which will commence in September

In June 2006, we bade farewell to Mrs McAuley who has been working with us for the last 9 years. She
will take up a position in St. Mary‟s Grammar School, Magherafelt, and we wish her every success in
her new appointment. She will be sadly missed and a great loss and we thank her for all her hard work
and commitment to Home Economics and LLW.

Aquinas Diocesan Grammar School                                Annual General Report          12

The academic year 2005 – 2006 saw two new members of staff, Miss Sarah Flynn and Ms Sarah
Campbell, join the Mathematics department, while Mr Mark Hewitt left to take up a position with
BELB where we continue to benefit from his expertise.

Throughout the year the Mathematics department participated in a variety of courses and initiatives in
order to continue their professional development.

All members of the department continue to work closely as a team, sharing expertise, ideas and
resources and embracing new ideas to the advantage of our pupils. This year this included piloting for
all Year 8 pupils a cross-curricular project as well as a Communication task, both of which were
practical and relevant to everyday life and used and developed many of the Skills and Capabilities
identified in the new curriculum for KS3.

The shared area now contains a considerable bank of resources developed to enhance pupil learning
and used by all teachers including resources involving pupil use of ICT.

The participation of all Year 11 and Year 12 pupils in the CCEA GCSE pilot was a resounding success,
with three Year 12 students achieving joint second place in Northern Ireland and all Year 12 students
achieving a minimum of Grade C. In addition many Year 11 pupils achieved the maximum uniform
mark in Module 3. It is hoped that this will improve confidence and motivate our Year 11 pupils to
work to achieve their full potential.

This year, as the result of the eagerness of our A-level students to share their enjoyment of
Mathematics, the Mathematics Department, for the first time, had Mathematics prefects. It was agreed
that they would act as mentors for Year 13 students struggling to adjust to the demands of A-level.
This initiative was so successful it is hoped that it will be continued in future years.

In March „National Pi Day‟ was celebrated in the Junior school with cross-curricular links as well as a
competition, organised by Year 10 pupils, aimed at memorising as many digits of  as possible.

As departmental results from KS3 through to A-level, continue to be of a high standard, reflecting the
hard work of both staff and students, it is hoped that recent changes will simply enhance the learning
experience of the pupils, allowing each to achieve his or her full potential.

As the year closed, the department, with regret, said goodbye to Ms Joanne Connolly. We thank her
for the commitment and enthusiasm she has shown over the years and wish her well for the future.

Aquinas Diocesan Grammar School                                 Annual General Report           13

The French Department were delighted to welcome back Mme. Nathalie Wilson as our French
Assistant. Nathalie worked closely with our students to help improve their oral skills. Her help was
invaluable in preparation for presentations, debate and discussion on topical issues at Advanced Level.

Aquinas hosted a group of students and teachers from the Lycée Maguerite Flandre in Gondecourt near
Lille. A group of fifty students and five teachers travelled from Dublin to visit Aquinas in March. The
students spent the morning in school accompanied by members of the French Department and Aquinas
pupils. In the afternoon they visited the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum accompanied by Mrs
Lambon, Mme. Nathalie Wilson and some Aquinas pupils. The links between the two schools will be
encouraged to develop.

It is hoped that Aquinas pupils will visit the French Lycée in the near future. Contact with Mme.
Rambaud and M. Buttel, who are keen to arrange links, is ongoing.

Sixth Year students of French attended an Open day at Queens University. This was a successful and
positive experience which will be repeated in 2005.

A team of Aquinas pupils entered the French Debating Competition organised by Nicilt. The
competition is for Sixth year pupils studying French for A Level. The subsequent rounds of this
competition will take place in the Autumn Term.


The academic year 2005-2006 was a busy and productive one for the Irish Department. We were very
pleased with the results of all our exam classes. All our Year 9 pupils also gained their silver Fáinne.

The Department welcomed Hugh Ó Gallchóir as an assistant who helped our Year 12 and A Level
pupils with their oral work. The department also hosted two student teachers who did a teaching
placement with us as part of their PGCE training.

The department continued to build upon its links with the Gaeltacht. Year 14 and Year 13 pupils
attended the Sixth Form Easter course in Loch an Iúir. A group of our Year 12 pupils also attended the
Easter GCSE course in Loch an Iúir. Many pupils availed of the opportunity to go to the Gaeltacht
summer courses and practise their Irish. The department was particularly pleased with the large number
of Year 8 and Year 9 pupils who attended the June course in Rannafast. 61 pupils attended this course.
Pupils from the other year groups attended the July and August courses in Loch an Iúir. Six A Level
students got „ceannaire‟ jobs in Rannafast.

Once again oral competitions were organised in school for all the junior pupils and we were delighted
with the enthusiasm and careful preparation of all the entrants. Standards were very high and two
Aquinas scholarships were awarded to each of the year groups in the junior school. Our senior pupils
took part in oral competitions organised by Comhaltas Uladh and some of our pupils also gained Feis
an Dúin scholarships.

The academic calendar also featured many cultural and linguistic events. In October Mr Mac
Murchaidh accompanied the Year 10 students to a day organised by Gael-Linn. The pupils took part in
a quiz and enjoyed the Céilí organised afterwards. Cultural projects were completed by Year 8 pupils
on names and place-names but the main event of the year for pupils this year was the launch of

Aquinas Diocesan Grammar School                                  Annual General Report           14
Fleadh Aquinas in March. A wide variety of events was organised. The Year 8 pupils were taught
dances in advance and an afternoon céilí and concert was organised for the year group. Céilís were
also organised for Year 13 and Year 14 pupils and these proved very popular. Storytelling, traditional
music sessions and Irish dancing displays also featured in the week‟s activities. The event was very
successful and enjoyed by the pupils and it is hoped to repeat it this year. A group of our form six
pupils auditioned and won places to star in a new BBC Irish film. They enjoyed their experience
filming in Wales in the summer.

Mrs Maguire and Mr Mac Murchaidh attended all relevant courses provided for Irish teachers. Both
teachers also keep abreast of curriculum changes and initiatives by continuing with their work on the
CCEA examining team for Irish.


The Spanish Department is made up of 3 specialist teachers: Mrs Geraldine Gibson, Mr Peter Dobbin
and Ms Seana Maguire. The Spanish Assistant is Ms Paloma Rivas and she attends 14 hours per week

September 2005 commenced with 13 Year 14 students entering A2 level Spanish and 13 beginning AS
level. It was decided to continue with the CCEA syllabus at A Level

The main focus of the department remained the complete integration of ICT into the department as a
whole. The focus of the department was to enhance effective learning and teaching using ICT.

During the year various events took place:

September 2005:       As part of the Presidential visit to the school the Spanish Department put on a
                      lesson demonstrating our effective use of ICT to enhance learning and teaching.

March/April 2005:     The Department was delighted to host our second visit from our partner school in
                      Barcelona, I.E.S Vall del Tenès. 8 students came along with 2 teachers. A very
                      thorough programme of events was organised including trips to Dublin and the
                      Giant‟s Causeway.

April 2005:           Annual Semana Santa Competition for KS3
                      This year the students had to work in groups to devise a Powerpoint Presentation
                      on Don Quijote de la Mancha which coincided with the 400th Anniversary of the
                      author Don Miguel de Cervantes. The participation from all students was
                      excellent and the department was delighted to have as its judge, Joana Perera, the
                      teacher from our link school in Barcelona.

May 2005:             Students from GCSE were invited to enter a World Cup Competition online
                      organised through the Spanish Embassy in London. One student was one of the
                      winners and received a Villa Real football jersey as a prize.

A member of the department also took part in a linguistic and cultural enhancement programme in
Santander, Spain for European teachers of Spanish. This was considered to be a very worthwhile and
rewarding experience for personal professional development and for pedagogical strategies relevant to
the whole department.

Aquinas Diocesan Grammar School                                  Annual General Report           15
The academic year proved highly rewarding for the Music Department. The exam results achieved were the
best ever in the department and this was accompanied by a full programme of extra-curricular music-

Instrumental Tuition
One hundred and eighteen pupils received private instrumental tuition in the department during the
academic year. This was delivered by twelve peripatetic music tutors. Forty-nine pupils who attend lessons
in school successfully passed ABRSM examinations. Two pupils attained the highest level, Grade 8.

Thirteen pupils successfully completed grade five theory which was taught after school by Mrs. Shannon.
This exam is a pre-requisite for pupils who wish to progress to grade six or above. Four pupils successfully
completed Trinity College Rock School examinations in drums and six Year 8 pupils, who began lessons at
the start of the year, successfully completed the Trinity College Initial exam in classical guitar.

The music department wishes to extend congratulations to all those pupils from the Belfast School of Music
and those taught privately who were successful in ABRSM exams and music festivals.

On behalf of the candidates we would like to thank Mrs. Plunkett who gave freely of her time taking aural

Extra-Curricular Activities
From September to April, extra curricular activities took place at lunchtime on the following days:
       Monday          Mixed Choir                             Thursday        Chamber choir
       Tuesday         Chamber Choir/Traditional group          Friday         Folk group
       Wednesday       Orchestra

Musical Department Events Calendar

Chamber choir perform for President Mary McAleese on her visit to the school.

School production of Hello Dolly.

Celebration of Achievement
Music was provided by the chamber choir, string quartet and Year 13 pupils.

Open Nights
Music provided by chamber choir, string quartet and the school orchestra in the mall.

Coleraine International Choral Festival
The girls‟ chamber choir acquitted themselves admirably amid first-class competition achieving third place
to „City of Derry Youth Choir (2nd)‟ and „Camella‟ from the Czech Republic. A thoroughly enjoyable day
of music-making was had by all.

Annual School Concert
All ensembles performed and a very high standard of solo performance was evident.              The evening
culminated in the performance of Handel‟s „Hallelujah‟ chorus from the „Messiah‟.

Junior musicians contributed to the Year 8 Mass and the Celebration of Achievement.
Aquinas Diocesan Grammar School                                     Annual General Report             16
                                 PHYSICAL EDUCATION

Physical Education in Aquinas hopes to make a unique contribution to the overall education of every
student by meaningful experiences that will challenge the physical and intellectual development of the
students through relevant cultural activities.

Extra-curricular sport is a key feature of Aquinas. Activities on offer include Athletics, Basketball,
Cross-Country, Gaelic Football (Boys and Girls), Hockey, Netball, Rugby, Hurling, Soccer and
Camogie Outdoor Pursuits. Teams are entered in School League and training for all teams is held on a
weekly basis.

At examination level 33 students completed CCEA GCSE Physical Education attaining excellent
results. Once again all Year 11 and Year 12 GCSE students attended a 3 day course in orienteering at
Delamont Outdoor Centre, as part-fulfilment of GCSE practical studies. 13 students sat AS Physical
Education and attained good grades at AS level. 8 A2 level students attained excellent results.

In the Junior School the core areas of study include swimming at the Grove Leisure Centre, games,
athletics and gymnastics. The yearly Health and Fitness Day for the Junior School took place in
September and as always was a roaring success. A new whole school event to end the year was a one
day Soccer and Basketball tournament. The Senior School received tuition in Health Related fitness,
games and athletics. From Year 11 onwards, all students use the Fitness Suite developing their fitness


The 2005/06 school basketball season proved a highly successful one for all five Aquinas teams. Each
school team now plays in the „A‟ division of their respective age groups and this is a remarkable feat as
the school is relatively small in comparison to much larger ones on both sides of the border and also
demonstrates how hard both players and their coach work throughout the entire year.

The U16 team were three seconds away from a place in the All-Ireland semi final in Galway when a
miraculous shot from Patrician College Newbridge sent the game into overtime and was a blow for
which the team had no answer. However, great credit must go to the team who had played extremely
well to reach the ¼ final stages with a great win over favourites, St Joseph‟s Galway.

In April the Year 10s lost in the regional final to St Malachy‟s but progressed to the All-Ireland play-
offs in Castlebar. However, our hopes were dealt a major blow when captain Ben Horner broke his
wrist in the first game. We finished runners-up in the pool and then lost to hosts St Gerald‟s Castlebar
in the semi final, a disappointing end to the season for the team.

The Year 9s progressed to the All-Irelands in Limerick in May when they finished as the best runners-
up in Ulster behind St Malachy‟s and St Pat‟s Dungannon. The team produced two great results on the
first day to advance to the next stage of the play-offs on the Sunday morning. However, the team was
unable to reproduce the form that they showed the previous day and lost to St Pat‟s Dungannon,
finishing in fourth place overall and ahead of many other established schools.

The year ended with the Year 8 Vince Halloran tournament co-hosted by ourselves and St Malachy‟s.
Both schools advanced with relative ease to the final, winning all five matches on the way where an
epic game saw Aquinas lose for the second time in three years to the Antrim Road School (41-39).

Aquinas Diocesan Grammar School                                  Annual General Report            17
On a representative basis Ben Horner, Conall Devlin and Emmet Loughrey represented the Ulster U15
schoolboys‟ teams in the inter-regional championships in Waterford with Joe Burns and Rory
McCormick selected to play for the Ulster U16 team.


Seven Aquinas teams played in the school league.

Year 8 won the first form league. Claire McVeigh was awarded player of the league. Year 9 were
placed 4th at the U13 Rockport School Championships. Year 10, true to form, had another fantastic
season winning the Belfast league. They reached the semi-final stage of the Northern Ireland league
where they were marginally defeated. Year 11 had a tremendous season becoming runners-up in the
Intermediate section of the Belfast league. At senior level Hannah Yahyaoui, Aine Short and Katie
Campbell all played at U19 national level.

At U16 Vi-sport Gillan Hewitt and Olivia McKillop were selected into the squad. At U15 level Marion
McGuigan, Nicola Ferguson and Sarah Kelly represented Aquinas.

For 2006/07 season, the two Aquinas minor teams and the Intermediate team will be on tour with
Rockport School, Donaghadee ladies and Bangor Ladies. The tour is to Marbella, Spain, playing five
Spanish schools during the Halloween Break.

Aquinas Diocesan Grammar School                               Annual General Report         18
                                  RELIGIOUS STUDIES

A Level
In Year 14, 15 students continued with the A2 Religious Studies course and in Year 13, 34 students
embarked on their AS course. The department continued to enjoy outstanding results, with all students
achieving grades A-C in their AS / A2 examinations.

Our Year 12 students achieved outstanding examination results with 73% of the year group achieving
grades A* or A. The department will continue with its policy of identifying and targeting weaker
candidates and also identifying our stronger candidates; policies which contribute to the achieving, of
our highest grades ever 100% A*-C. Again, this year, feedback from AQA Examination Board
complimented the pupils on their excellent standard of work and presentation. Furthermore, the report
highlighted the high standard of coursework marking.

The programme was delivered on a modular, rotational basis to each tutor group. In the delivery of this
programme we have chosen topics which will hopefully enable us to prepare our students morally and
spiritually for an increasingly secular world. This programme has been enhanced with the use of guest

In March Year 14 A2 Ethics students attended as part of inter-cultural week a film-documentary and
lecture on the life of Stephen Lawrence. Year 12 Pupils, as part of international film week attended
Mel Gibson‟s film The Passion of the Christ. In May we were delighted to hold an A level Ethics
revision afternoon hosted by Fr. G Toman of The Queen‟s University Belfast and Fr. E McGee from St.
Mary‟s University College. This proved to be a most valuable experience.

Aquinas Diocesan Grammar School                                 Annual General Report           19
Throughout the year the Science department strived to improve on the teaching and learning experience
of all students with numerous initiatives within the department. The value of these initiatives are
reflected in the great results for Double Award and the superb results for Triple Award students. The
positive approach and supportive nature of the department was also reflected in the high achievements
at both AS and A2 Levels

In September, the school hosted Dr. Peter Wareing for the Institute of Biology lecture on Adaptation of
cereals to environmental factors. This function was attended by teachers and students from a number
of local schools and universities.

The Chemistry department continued to participate in numerous and varied courses which enhanced
their professional development.

Ms Byrne continued to develop the Science club, meeting each Friday at lunchtime. Ably assisted by
the science prefects, Year 8 & 9 pupils carried out a range of exciting investigations beyond the scope
of the science curriculum.

Following the success of Aquinas teams in the Engineering Education Scheme in the previous two
years and given the huge time and resources commitment required, it was decided that for 2005-06 the
scheme would be coordinated jointly by the physics and technology departments. A team of five Year
13 students were selected in September and over the next six months they researched, designed and
built a system to reduce noise for crew and passengers in RAF Puma helicopters. The team exhibited
and presented their final product at QUB in April and were awarded the CREST Gold award for their

During 2005-2006, the department continued to develop the skills of our technical staff Peter Cullen
and Sean Duffy. This included participation in externally provided training courses on Health and
Safety, microbiology and data logging for technicians working in biology. This training has proven to
be very worthwhile in improving the skills of our technical staff and enhancing the technical provision
provided across the department.

In June six Year 10 pupils participated in the annual Express Yourself Conference at W5 in the
Odyssey. This event allows pupils from schools across N. Ireland to present their work in science
through poster and oral presentations

A level student Rachel O‟Hare gained a place on the Nuffield Science Bursary Scheme. Rachel worked
with engineers at AES Kilroot Power for four weeks during July and August.

During the Year the Chemistry Department hosted Queen‟s University PGCE student Dr. Mark Fox.
Ms. Joan Donnellan left the department in June after ably covering the maternity leave for Mrs T.

Aquinas Diocesan Grammar School                                 Annual General Report           20

Academic year 2005-2006 was another successful year for the Sociology department.

The subject remains a popular AS Level subject and most students continue their studies through to A2
Level. Once again the examination results were pleasing at both AS and A2 Level with all our A2
students passing and 50% receiving „A‟ grades. This year also saw many students decide to study the
subject in more depth at degree level.

In October of 2005, two students represented the school at the MUNGA (Model United Nations
General Assembly) in Parliament Buildings. The students were required to research social issues and
individual countries responses. They then had to prepare speeches and field questions from other
countries. Our students presented themselves as articulate, interested and responsible citizens and
performed excellently on the day.

Aquinas Diocesan Grammar School                                Annual General Report          21
                             TECHNOLOGY AND DESIGN
This academic year proved busy and rewarding for the Technology & Design department both in terms
of curricular and extra-curricular activities. The results from the summer 2006 GCSE and Advanced
Level examinations are above average and all members of staff and pupils are to be congratulated for
their efforts. Several of our Advanced level students are now pursuing undergraduate courses in the
field of engineering, architecture and physics.

GCSE Technology and Design is a popular option at Key Stage 4 & A‟ level. We attempted to address
the gender imbalance at GCSE and are delighted that our Year 11 class has seven boys and six girls!
We hope this trend will continue. Advanced Level Technology and Design is strong with eight students
completing the course this year and fifteen students in Lower Sixth.

In the school year 2004 – 2005 Aquinas Technology & Design Department continued to be successful
in gaining prizes in regional competitions.

Formula 1 Competition
As part of the initiative to address the gender balance in Technology & Design and improve the
graphics in the design folders, all Year 10 pupils participated in the Formula 1 Model Car competition
in December 2005. The classes were divided into teams where they had to design a formula 1 racing
car, present a design portfolio and a PowerPoint presentation explaining their ideas. All teams had to
produce a CAD of their final solution. There was an internal competition and an external judge who
decided the top six teams. They were taken to Antrim Board Centre to see their car being made on a
CNC Router. Finally all teams raced their car at the regional finals in Ulster Folk & Transport
Museum, Cultra. The teams performed excellently and we won a cup for the best „New-comer‟ at KS3
and at A‟ level. A great day was had and we hope to continue the project for years to come.

Engineering Education Scheme
This was the third year Aquinas participated in this scheme and the year got off to an exciting start with
the new team commuting from the school to Aldergrove by helicopter. The programme was mainly co-
ordinated with the Science Department and Technology & Design having a design and practical input.
The programme began with an induction day at UUJ in October; they worked with the RAF Aldergrove
to investigate solutions to a noise issue within the helicopter. They tested their idea in the engineering
workshop at UUJ during a residential stay. The culmination of the project was the production of a
report and presentation of the team‟s findings at the exhibition and presentation day at UUJ on 21 st
April 2006. The work was assessed by a group of engineers and company managers. The team was
rewarded with a commendation on the quality of their investigation, report and presentation. They
were awarded the Crest Gold Award for their efforts. The students found this experience invaluable and
many are planning a future career in the field of engineering.

Team 2005 had enjoyed success in The Young Innovators‟ competition and the prize was to travel to
the RAF Red Arrows base in England. This took place in December 2005. Many of those students
have now taken up university courses relating to engineering.

Building Work
We finally got agreement for our long awaited extension work. The planning room has now been
extended into a useable classroom and the materials store has been extended to allow for better use of
the circular saw and storage of projects. We look forward to making full use of the facilities. Special
thanks must go to the late Mr. David Mack, Inspector for Technology & Design, Department of
Education and Mr. Noel Hunter for their advice and support over this matter. Also to Damien Day,
Architect, Kennedy Fitzgerald & Assoc. for his unbounding patience.

Aquinas Diocesan Grammar School                                   Annual General Report            22
Key Stage Three Review
This was a year of preparation for the KS3 review and the department has been busy updating the KS3
design folder to reflect the changes. ICT is a major focus in all aspects of Technology & Design. The
ICT facilities within the department are up to date and the software packages Crocodile Technology
and PCB Wizard are used regularly. Improving oral and written communication was also targeted and
evaluated with the help of our communications co-ordinator and is now an intrinsic part of our
assessment programme.

We look forward to another exciting year of hard work and participation in competitions.

Aquinas Diocesan Grammar School                                 Annual General Report         23
Sixth Form Community Link Programme

The Community Link programme has continued to be a great success with eighty Lower Sixth students
participating. Our students thoroughly enjoyed the programme and gained a wealth of experience from
working with disabled students, Primary School pupils, the elderly and the general public.

Students travelled to their respective placements on a weekly basis, committing an hour of their private
study time to do so. They engaged in a wide range of activities such as paired reading, novel reading,
computer clubs, art, drama, social skills, music and games. Our students also took part in a sponsored
bag pack with the students from Glenveagh Special Care School and helped in the preparations for their
annual concert.

Within Nazareth Care Village students have been involved in a wide variety of activities. They
organised and performed in a Christmas Carol Service and St. Patrick‟s Day céilí. The school‟s
chamber choir performed for the residents and our students continued to visit the residents during their
school holidays.

Our links have continued to develop with the local charity shops, Oxfam, Action Cancer, Cancer
Research and N.I Hospice. Throughout the year students organised collections of clothes, toys, books
etc for the shops and many students participated in the N.I Hospice collections in Belfast City Centre in
both December and June.

Excellent feedback from each of the placements was a clear indication of the enthusiasm and dedication
of our students.

A number of sixth form students, with the help and support of the Junior School, have continued to take
responsibility for recycling within school, working in partnership with Bryson House Recycling. This
has proved to be a real success with pupils organising assemblies to promote awareness and sacrificing
their break time on a rota basis to collect recyclable paper.

 I would like to acknowledge the help and support of many organisations in helping this programme.
We are most grateful to Mrs. M Jamison (Glenveagh) Mr S. Merick (Holy Rosary P.S) Mr. H. Venney
(St. Michael‟s PS) Mrs L. Clarke (St. Bernard‟s PS) Mrs P. Herron (Bunscoile An Drohead) Mrs S.
Dickson (Nazareth Care Village) Mr. P. Lynch (Action Cancer) Mrs A. Fitzpartick (Oxfam) Mrs D.
Perkins (Cancer Research) Mrs D. Armstrong (N.I Hospice). Also, the staff of Bryson House
Recycling. We thank them for all their co-operation and encouragement.

Aquinas Diocesan Grammar School                                  Annual General Report            24

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