Rainey and Rathmore among Northern Ireland’s top performing schools

Rainey Endowed School, Magherafelt.
Rainey Endowed School, Magherafelt.

Rainey Endowed School in Magherafelt has been named The Sunday Times Northern Ireland School of the Year.

The top performing schools in Northern Ireland are revealed in The Sunday Times Parent Power, published in The Sunday Times and online this Sunday, November 27.

The definitive guide, which can be found online at www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/parentpower, contains the top 2,000 state and independent schools, searchable by postcode, town, local authority and name of school.

As well as assessment of all academic results on a school-by-school basis, Parent Power enables parents to compare the performance of a given school with other schools in the same town, local authority or nationally. There are also live links to school websites and schools’ most recent inspection reports.

Now in its 24th year of publication, Parent Power is widely acknowledged as the most authoritative survey of the country’s best schools. The rankings in the secondary school league tables are determined by the percentage of examination entries gaining A* to B grades at A Level this summer (which is given double weighting) and the percentage of entries returning A* and A grades at GCSE. They are published several weeks ahead of the official Government tables for secondary school performance.

This year’s Sunday Times Parent Power schools guide has named Rainey Endowed School as the Northern Ireland Secondary School of the Year. It ranks fourth among the Northern Irish cohort of schools this year, rising 17 places in the UK rankings and three places within Northern Ireland since last year. At A-level, 82.6 per cent of grades secured A* - B grades this summer and 55.2 per cent of GCSE’s were at A* - A grade.

The school is also renowned for its extracurricular activities and charitable work.

This year a group of 12 children and three members of staff went to Kusumpur, a slum in New Delhi in India to help out at a children’s resource centre.

“It has a profound effect,” says Mark McCullough, head teacher of the non-denominational co-educational voluntary grammar school. “It makes them realise how lucky they are.

“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.”

“Giving children an awareness of the wider world in which they will take their place from within the secure confines of school is a goal for many but achieved by rather fewer. This determination to place the academic education it provides in a wider context makes the Rainey a hugely worthy winner of our Northern Ireland Secondary School of the Year title.”

Meanwhile, Rathmore Grammar School in Dunmurry is Northern Ireland’s top performing school this year, taking over the number one spot from Lumen Christi College in Londonderry.

Rathmore was last year’s Sunday Times Northern Ireland Secondary School of the Year. It has the best A Level results in Northern Ireland, with 84.5 per cent of entries achieving A* to B grades.

The Parent Power guide lists the “top 10 state secondary schools” in Northern Ireland as: 1, Rathmore Grammar School; 2, Our Lady and St Patrick’s College, Knock; 3, Lumen Christi College, Londonderry; 4, Rainey Endowed School, Magherafelt; 5, Strathearn School; Belfast; 6, St Mary’s Grammar School, Magherafelt; 7, Friends’ School Lisburn; 8, Portora Royal School, Enniskillen; 9, Dalriada School, Ballymoney; 10, Collegiate Grammar School, Enniskillen.