Belfast Boys' Model School
As you pass through the front doors of Boys Model School you are greeted by friendly staff and a host of teenage boys impeccably turned out in their school uniforms. The school was established in 1857 and in recent years has benefitted from a new building that is both impressive and welcoming. This is a modern school charged with guiding young men aged 11-18 years old from north Belfast and its surrounding areas towards a successful future.
The majority of pupils are from Protestant backgrounds and this is one school that seems to be turning the tide to ensure greater achievement by Protestant working class boys. The Principal, Mr. Alan Logan, along with his Senior Team, Vice Principals Mrs. Olwen Black and Mrs. Mary Montgomery, and the staff are firmly focused and fully committed to breaking the old cycle of students leaving with low GCSE results and a low chance of employability and progression in life. Many of the pupils live in areas of high deprivation, with multi-generational unemployment and a history paramilitary activity and violence, so there are plenty of challenges to face.
The school works hard to secure and maintain buy-in by parents and the local community. Building these important relationships begins at an early stage in the pupil’s journey. The school has a series of role models from the local community and businesses who highlight to pupils that success in life can manifest itself in many different ways.
This year the school has just celebrated their best ever ‘A’ level results. Every boy in this year’s cohort passed their A Levels with 67% achieving top grades of A*-C and 13 of the pupils received 3 A* or A Grades. While the senior team are delighted and excited by this success, they stress that the upturn in results of recent years did not happen overnight. They also insist that they do not measure success by academic results alone but take an holistic approach to education.
The school believes positive affirmations are a key driver for change and ‘Reward and recognition’ is high on the senior team’s radar. They recently celebrated successes achieved by 400 boys with a formal awards ceremony, based around the principles of attainment, effort and attendance. In addition, pupils are encouraged to become role models within the school community and to support each other. The Year 9 group have set up an ‘Anti-Bullying’ Facebook page which addresses issues faced by those being bullied and by the person acting as the bully. There is a mentor programme in which pupils and staff go out to prospective new pupils in primary 7 year in order to instil the values and aspirations of the school at a very early stage.
To prepare their pupils for the very real challenges of life, Boys Model works to instil a healthy ethos of competition in each of their pupils, so they will strive to be their very best. Full use is made of internal school data to track each pupil’s progress and ensure that, if an individual pupil appears to be slipping or in difficulty, there can be early intervention to provide support and guidance.
It has taken many years of dedication and effort by the teachers, the extensive support staff, pupils and local community to get the school to where it is today.
Caption: Principal Mr Alan Logan with A-Level pupils