In The Picture — 4 May 2022

Easter School



Students and one of the St Mary's student ambassadors at Easter School


Twenty-fifth WBPB Easter School at St Mary’s
Tuesday, 19 April – Friday, 22 April 2022

The twenty-fifth West Belfast Partnership Board (WBPB) Easter School took place in St Mary’s University College from the 19th to the 22nd of April. The Easter School offers additional support to Year 12 pupils at risk of not achieving the required Grade C in their GCSE Mathematics and English language examinations in the summer. Attending this year were around 100 pupils, divided into eleven class groups from seven schools, including an Irish-medium school. There were eleven fully qualified teachers and eighteen classroom assistants working with the pupils. Seventeen of the classroom assistants were student teachers at St Mary’s who are currently completing a degree programme specializing in either Mathematics, English or Irish Medium. 

Schools involved in this year’s Easter School included St Dominic’s, St Louise’s, All Saints, St Genevieve’s, De La Salle, St Mary’s, Christian Brothers Grammar School, and Colaiste Feirste. Pupils wore casual clothes instead of school uniforms, and the atmosphere generally was more informal than in the normal school environment. Pupils attended classes in the College each day from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm. A thirty-minute lunch break included a hot meal and a soft drink. The classes mixed genders and combined schools, dividing students into classes by the particular topic or theme taught.


Students walking into St Mary's for Easter School Students making their way into St Mary's for Easter school


Pupils were selected to attend the Easter School using the following criteria:

  • They must be year 12 pupils who are borderline Grade C or below.
  • They must attend a school or be a resident in the West Belfast Constituency.
  • They have experienced barriers to their learning.
  • They have had satisfactory attendance at school.

Student getting help from one of the St Mary's student abassadors who worked with the teachers taking the classes.


Each student’s regular class teacher had indicated the student’s particular areas of weakness in Mathematics and/or English, so the support provided could be targeted and could be more effective. The English classes this year saw a significant number of new-comer students who are attempting to prepare for their first formal examination in a second language. There were also opportunities on days three and four to explore examination technique and study skills.



It is part of our mission as a University College to reduce traditional obstacles that prevent access to higher education, and to enable participation from a broad spectrum of society. That is one of the reasons why we are a partner with the West Belfast Partnership Board in delivering the Easter School. Values such as equality, fairness and justice are important to us. We believe that all students deserve an equal chance to reach their full educational potential. Providing these intensive GCSE revision classes is one way to level the playing field and ensure that all young people have a fair chance regardless of their background or the barriers they face to education. 


Students during their Mathematics class at Easter School


Achieving Grades A-C in GCSE Mathematics and English are fundamental for every young person in terms of future employment and educational prospects. Students who do not achieve at least a Grade C in GCSE English and GCSE Mathematics are severely limited in terms of their futures. 

One of the reasons the Easter School is held in the College is that it brings the young people into a university environment and demystifies the whole idea of university as a scary place that’s simply not for them. It helps to clarify any misconceptions they may have and reveals the possibility that higher education could be something that they aspire to and achieve in the future. The Year 12 students also received information on St Mary’s, the degree courses that we offer, and advice on pathways after GCSE. The student teachers are only a few years older than the Year 12s and related well to the teenagers. Many of them spoke about how much they enjoyed working with the class group and how it was a chance for them to give back. They also enjoyed the additional teaching practice in delivering GCSE topics. They offered one-to-one tuition where required to boost confidence among those pupils who were really struggling. This was often all that was required. They also gave the Year 12s an insight into student life at St Mary’s. At the end of the week, most of the Year 12 students reported feeling more positive about their educational future. 


The following student ambassadors from St Mary’s worked at the 2022 school:

Lucy McGurk, Cait Passmore, Alana McCarron, Corra Cunningham, Lauren O’Rourke, Grainne Lavery, Finvola McVeigh, Niamh Murphy, Riona Walsh, Conor McConville, Laura McCurdy, Sinead Boyle, Meabh Corrigan, Bronagh McCrory, Aisling Teague, Thomas O’Kane and Bronagh Murray.


Student ambassadors from St Mary's who worked at the Easter School - Lucy McGurk, Cait Passmore, Alana McCarron, Corra Cunningham, Lauren O’Rourke, Grainne Lavery, Finvola McVeigh, Niamh Murphy, Riona Walsh, Conor McConville, Laura McCurdy, Sinead Boyle, Meabh Corrigan, Bronagh McCrory, Aisling Teague, Thomas O’Kane and Bronagh Murray


Some of the teachers who took classes during Easter School

Three of the teachers who taught during Easter School.


Easter School 2022 Video