Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 28 August 2014

Dear Peter and Martin, you’ve failed most of the tests so far...

So your extra long holiday is over and you’re back for a new term at Stormont-on-the-Hill

Peter, your family made the right choice going off to Florida because we’ve hardly had a day without rain and barely a glimmer of sunshine. Maybe that’s what put homebird Martin in such a bad mood last week when he attacked you. Certainly, the dismal summer of 2009 has only served to remind the rest of us of the poor performance to date of Stormont-on-the-Hill.

As you all enter P3 in this school year 2009-10, we must ask the question: what will you achieve by way of positive results and |good grades?

If Stormont-on-the-Hill held an annual Speech Day, would you win any prizes? I doubt it. Perhaps for oratory but words alone in the months ahead will be far from enough. The reality, too, is that your exam grades in P1 and P2 have been pretty abysmal.

Your behaviour in the past week does not augur well for the year ahead. How can we have a settled school environment if you two are seen to weigh into one another even before the bell sounds for the first class?

You are well aware from last term that there was far too much disruptive talking in class. Too much verbal diarrhoea and abusive language. Too many senior pupils still either shouting at each other or else refusing to speak to one another in the school corridor.

That’s no way to build pride and loyalty in any school and I have to say that you two must set a better example. You need to raise your game a lot more.

Stormont-on-the-Hill is simply not pulling together sufficiently to achieve the results which we expect. It has all sorts of problems. It couldn’t agree on a common sports ground. It can’t agree on who polices pupils and metes out justice on behalf of the school. It can’t even agree on what exam, if any, pupils take in P7.

Each of you blames the other. Whether you, Peter, were “too long in Disneyland” or you, Martin, are “cheap and nasty”, we need both of you to grow up and show a bit more maturity.

Now, what of the term ahead? What are the chances of improved performance and better results? I know that you, Martin, said things will get better but the rest of us fail to see how and where any significant change will occur.

I fear that you and Peter and your respective school gangs will be head-banging one another for all your worth this winter. All the signs point to you squaring up for another big battle outside the school gates next spring.

All in all, the school has a long way to go to make a really effective contribution to the community it serves. Stormont-on-the-Hill’s main achievement to date is that it hasn’t broken up in disarray. It’s a minor miracle that all the pupils are still in attendance although some have played truant. They should be expelled at the earliest opportunity.

I hope I’m wrong but the coming year’s classes could turn out to be a costly waste of time. If you two allow the language and behaviour to deteriorate inside and outside the school, little or nothing of consequence will be achieved. The worst case scenario is that inspectors might come in and recommend closure which would be disastrous for the surrounding community.

It’s down to you, Peter and Martin, to see that doesn’t happen. The only saving grace is that it is early days in P3 and you still have time to improve before you hit P7. By then, who knows — the 11-plus might be a thing of the past. And you know what that means — no more exams to fail at Stormont-on-the-Hill!

Yours, Ed

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