- Tallysallagh, Omagh, Co Tyrone in the Diocese of Derry
“Evidence suggests that such an early division of children actually damages educational outcomes of our society … I have seen a non-selective seamless approach to the transfer from primary school, and I know that it is both a huge relief to the primary schools and can be a successful experience for the young people … The end of high stakes testing at the age of eleven means that everybody can be a winner and nobody a loser. I will keep pushing so that it can happen everywhere.” – Bishop McKeown
Good afternoon everyone.
At the beginning of this month, all schools had a welcome break around the Feast of All Saints. Nowadays we tend to talk more about Hallowe’en, literally the evening before the Feast of All Hallows/Saints. But there is a message in both the feast and the name of your school. It is a statement saying we believe that all our young people are capable of being heroes in their lives, good on the inside and not just looking good on the outside.
And it is interesting that the title of the Chief Inspector’s report on education in Northern Ireland, which was published this week, is called Working as One … with Success for Everyone. So when this school was opened on the Feast of All Saints sixteen years ago what you wanted to do, and what the inspectors say we need to do, are precisely the same thing, namely, to help everyone to be valued and support everyone to achieve. Anything else is not just against the spirit of Catholic education. The State tells us that anything less is bad for society, whether we have religious beliefs or not.
I still possess a poster that I received from my sisters and brother some 43 years ago. It says on it “None of us is as smart as all of us”. I believe that that message contains great and indeed timeless advice. I believe this because real and life-affirming education is not about working out how smart you are but rather it is about discovering how you are smart. All Saints Primary School believes that individually each of us is brilliant – but that all of us together are fabulous. And that is why our school is growing and getting these great new facilities which we are celebrating today.
All across Ireland parents recognise a good school. They know instinctively where their children are happy. They know where pastoral care and high expectations go together. And so I congratulate Mrs Daly, all her staff and the Board of Governors of All Saints for all that you provide for our children, for our families and to our community. Thank you for your dedication to building the best possible future for our young people. What you do here creates both a wonderful learning and loving atmosphere, and a solid base, on which secondary education can be built.
And our post-primary provision in Omagh has recognised – as other places are doing – that you don’t need a high stakes test at ten years of age in order to enable all children to get the best possible education. The evidence suggests that such an early division of children actually damages educational outcomes of our society. The 11-plus test was invented at a time when most people left primary school at fourteen years of age in order to go out to work – and the exam enabled a small number the selected for secondary education. But nowadays everybody needs qualifications and it is great that this whole West and Mid-Tyrone area will be able to guarantee high quality education to all young people between the ages of four and sixteen without having to force them through an unnecessary test at ten.
I know that some parents are worried about their children being subjected to an experimental new system. But I have seen a non-selective seamless approach to the transfer from primary school, and I know that it is both a huge relief to the primary schools and can be a successful experience for the young people.
For it to happen, we need good leaders. And this week’s Chief Inspector’s report confirms that they find leadership very good in the Catholic-managed sector. Good leadership has meant that the move away from selection tests has happened – or is now happening – in Armagh, Keady, Lurgan, Strabane, Carnlough, Coleraine, Portstewart.
The end of high stakes testing at the age of eleven means that everybody can be a winner and nobody a loser. I will keep pushing so that it can happen everywhere.
For All Saints Primary School this is a day to be remembered. There will be lots of laughter and photographs because it is so worth celebrating. But at the heart of all that we do lie the children. Schools are here for the young people. They are all called to be saints here and hereafter. And we all pledge to provide the best physical and human environment so that they can all blossom and reach their full potential.
God bless you all and this wonderful school!
Notes to Editors
- Bishop Donal McKeown is the Bishop of Derry. This address was delivered by Bishop McKeown today at 1.30pmafter which he gave a special blessing to celebrate the new extension to All Saints Primary School, Tallysallagh, Omagh, Co Tyrone in the Diocese of Derry. Parents, friends, family and local members of the parish community were in attendance for this special occasion which took place in the School Assembly Hall.
- All Saints’ Primary School officially opened on All Saints’ Day 1990 replacing Tattysallagh Primary School. It has four spacious classrooms, each equipped with an interactive whiteboard. It also has a temporary classroom in the central resource area, staff-room, principal/secretary’s office, a kitchen, a multi-purpose hall with fitted climbing frames; toilets, cloakrooms and a caretaker’s store. The school has a large outdoor area comprising an outdoor gym, an adventure trail, wooden playhouses, a spacious playground with areas for soccer, for use of the trucks and trikes and cycling proficiency training, a grass Gaelic football pitch and an environmental area including a pond, greenhouse, wooded area and bug hotel. The school’s current staffing is made up of principal, three full-time, permanent teachers, one full-time temporary teacher and one part-time teacher. The school secretary, building supervisor, classroom assistants, supervisory assistants, school meals staff, sports coaches, language and music tutors complete a team dedicated to the education and welfare of children entrusted to their care. Meals are transported daily from Holy Family Primary School and are served from 12.00 noonunder the supervision of members of staff in the multi-purpose hall. Pupils have a choice of meals or they can opt to bring a packed lunch. The school website is www.allsaintstattysallagh.com.
For media contact: Catholic Communications Office, Maynooth: Martin Long 00353 (0) 86 172 7678