Easter School

27 April 2022

Easter School - Addressing underachievement and raising educational attainment levels.

An initiative aimed at addressing underachievement and raising educational attainment levels for young people sitting GCSE exams this summer took place recently in Belfast.

Run by West Belfast Partnership Board (WBPB), in conjunction with St Mary's University College, the classes are for Year 12 students living in or attending school in the greater west Belfast area.

First piloted in 1998 as an experimental out-of-school hours learning initiative, the Easter School was later developed as part of the WBPB education programme from 2000. Proving hugely successful, it has become an integral aspect of education provision for Year 12 students in west Belfast.

The programme provided four days of intensive tuition to students preparing for GCSE mathematics and English examinations with classes taught in both Irish and English.

It is specifically aimed at supporting 'borderline' students in need of additional support to help them achieve grade C or higher, with a focus on those entitled to free school meals.

Angela Mervyn from WBPB said, “The Easter School is one of our most successful and outstanding educational support projects".

"Over the past 24 years, we have had more than 4,000 young people attend the Easter School to receive support for GCSE English and maths," she said.

"It is aimed at students who are around five percentage points off a C grade in maths and English, these subjects are vitally important - they are the passport to go on to future education and employment.

"We have had great success over the years and actually have a former pupil who attended one of the first schools bringing their own child this year, a second generation which shows the good value of the tuition we are providing."

Professor Peter Finn, Principal of St Mary’s, added:

"Our college opens its doors to young people for an Easter School with the straightforward objective of assisting them to attain grade C or above in GCSE English and mathematics. Those grades are so important to enable progression to the next stage of education and ultimately to a good job and a career.
"This year there will also be additional support in preparing for the traditional form of examinations. The young people attending the Easter School will experience a diverse and inclusive learning environment where everyone is focused on working together in collaboration."

St Mary’s University College students who helped out over the Easter break as part of the GCSE Maths and English revision classes hosted in the College.

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