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New Wellington College principal vows to turn school around after slating by inspectors

By Rebecca Black

The head of a Belfast grammar has vowed to turn the school around following a poor report.

Nicola Connery has been in the job at Wellington College for seven months after the school went 18 months without a principal.

The south Belfast alma mater of First Minister Peter Robinson was slated by the Education and Training Inspectorate (ETI) as requiring "urgent attention".

It is only the third grammar school to have been placed into formal intervention. The others are Cambridge House in Ballymena and St Michael's in Lurgan.

Cambridge House has since exited the process and St Michael's has been amalgamated with two high schools to form the non-selective secondary St Ronan's.

Fivemiletown College in Co Tyrone was also placed into formal intervention this month. Acting principal Janice Allen said the school had already addressed some of the issues raised and was working on the remainder.

The report by the ETI on Wellington College published earlier this month found that many areas required significant improvement and should be urgently addressed, including levels of attainment in public exams, teaching and assessment, and leadership.

Ms Connery said work had already begun to address these areas.

"Wellington College is the first grammar school to be inspected under the revised inspection structure, and we are proud of how the pupils engaged with individual inspectors throughout the inspection," she added.

"The report highlights a number of areas for improvement. College staff are totally committed to meeting the needs of every pupil and have already started to address a number of the issues highlighted.

"The board of governors, the school leadership team and staff will continue to work closely with the Education Authority to ensure progress."

Fivemiletown College's Ms Allen said her staff were endeavouring to address the findings of its report.

"The staff and governors of the college are working closely with the Education Authority to bring about the improvements identified in the follow-up inspection report," she added.

"The school has already addressed some of the priorities as a matter of urgency.

"ETI inspectors returned to the school to monitor the improvements on Friday, November 13, with safeguarding now upgraded and evaluated as satisfactory.

"The governors and staff of the school are committed to providing a high-quality educational experience for the learners in Fivemiletown College and are working effectively to ensure that the areas identified in the inspection are addressed without delay."

There are currently 11 schools subject to formal intervention measures. The others are Ashgrove Primary; Fleming Fulton Special School; Laurelhill Community College; Movilla High School; Mullaghdubh Primary; Park School and Educational Resource Centre; St John the Baptist Primary; St Malachy's Primary, Belfast, and St Mary's Primary, Killyleagh.

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