Belfast Telegraph

Grammar is hailed as 'any parents' dream'

Paper names Magherafelt school as NI's best in 2016

By Rebecca Black

A voluntary grammar in Co Londonderry has been named Northern Ireland’s School of the Year by the Sunday Times newspaper.

Rainey Endowed in Magherafelt was found to not only have achieved some of the top examination results, but was also praised for its extracurricular activities and charitable work.

And Rathmore Grammar in south Belfast has been named Northern Ireland’s top performing school.

In a top 10 list based on how many students achieved the  highest grades at GCSE and A-level, Rathmore took the number one spot, which last year was claimed by Lumen Christi College in Derry.

Bucking the trend for Northern Ireland’s top performers,  there were more controlled than maintained schools on the list.

Controlled schools within the top 10 were Strathearn Grammar in east Belfast; Friends in Lisburn; Portora Royal and Collegiate Grammar, both in Enniskillen, and Dalriada in Ballymoney.

Rainey Endowed was singled out for particular praise after rising 17 places in the UK rankings.

The newspaper said that the school aimed to provide a strongly academic education, but also to develop the children morally, socially, spiritually and physically.

This year a group of 12 students and three staff members  from the school went to Kusumpur, a slum in New Delhi in India, where they helped paint a community centre and gave English and craft lessons to children.

“It has a profound effect. It makes them realise how lucky they are,” said principal Mark McCullough.

“We want to ensure our pupils become global citizens of the 21st century.”

Alastair McCall, editor of The Sunday Times Schools Guide, said: “Rainey is quite simply the sort of school all parents dream of for their children.

“Yes, it is academically successful, but visits such as the one undertaken to India in October provide education that can’t be tested in an examination hall.”

Education Minister Peter Weir congratulated all the top performers.

“Since I became minister I have visited many schools and have been very impressed by the high standards and dedication of teachers to their pupils,” he said.

“Academic achievement is just one element of a school. 

“It is important that we recognise all the work that teachers do day and daily to develop our children’s skills, talents and abilities to their fullest potential.”

Mr Weir added: “All of our schools should be proud of the work they carry out every day.”

The top performing schools are revealed in The Sunday Times Parent Power supplement, to be published this weekend. The definitive  guide which can be found at

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