A Co Down secondary school has announced it is investing over £20,000 to provide every Year 8 student starting in September 2021 with their own Chromebook to help enhance learning and development both in school and at home.
Blackwater Integrated College in Downpatrick has already invested £20,000 in purchasing Chromebooks for existing students as well as staff development and additional training in the use of Google Classroom.

Stephen Taylor, Principal of Blackwater Integrated College said: “Making the transition from primary school to secondary education is always a daunting stage for children, never mind doing so after two consecutive years of disrupted education. We have a robust plan in place to support the pastoral and curricular needs of all students for when they return after lockdown and I am confident that this will also be of huge benefit to our new intake of Year 8’s in September.
We are one of only a few schools in Northern Ireland to have recently appointed a dedicated full-time Youth Worker who will work solely with our students to develop bespoke programmes for them and provide support both inside and outside of school.”

“The last 12 months have been hugely challenging for all schools, but I am extremely proud of how we at Blackwater Integrated College have continued to support our pupils and their parents through these difficult times and I’m pleased that in a survey we carried out last month, 94% of parents said that their child was well supported through our online learning provision. To enhance both in school and online learning for our incoming Year 8 pupils, we are investing heavily to provide our new intake with their own Chromebook to assist with the use of Google Classroom,” Stephen continued.

“Given the change in criteria for post-primary admissions in 2021, this year will be even more stressful than ever for current primary 7 pupils and their parents. However, parents should remember that they know their child best and I urge them to choose a school that fits their child’s interests and needs as this will help them flourish.

I would encourage parents to speak to parents of children at the school they are considering applying for to find out their experience and don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and speak to the Principal of a prospective school about any questions they might have that will help make an informed decision. And please do bear in mind that while exam results are important, they shouldn’t be the only deciding factor as they don’t tell the full story about what a school offers, for example a good pastoral support and induction programme is vital and has never been more important given the challenges all children have faced since last March,” Mr Taylor concluded.

Blackwater Integrated College prides itself on providing all ability education that caters for students of all academic abilities and its offering includes accelerated learning groups at KS3; specialist provision for students with Special Educational Needs (SEN) and both vocational and academic pathways for students when choosing GCSE subjects. As an Integrated College Blackwater proudly caters for students from all communities. The school has small class sizes and excellent transport links from Belfast and the surrounding areas including scheduled buses from a choice of locations including South East Belfast.

To view the virtual Open Night for Blackwater Integrated College, which includes a selection of videos to give prospective pupils and parents the information and answers they need in order to make the important decision about post primary education, please go to www.blackwateric.org or if you would like to speak to Mr Taylor, please call 028 4461 2115 to make a telephone appointment.
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