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Seymour Hill Primary School is Celebrating Its 50th Year

Seymour Hill Primary School is Celebrating Its 50th Year

Back in 1959 the school opened to replace the old Stevenson School down in Dunmurry village. With the building of the Seymour Hill estate and the later Conway and Glenwood estates, a community of 2000 homes was established. The school had to be extended with four more classrooms and lots of temporary classrooms and by the 1970s there were over 600 pupils enrolled.

The school is happily situated in a pleasant semi-rural setting near the River Lagan. It is blessed with extensive grounds, mature trees and play areas that all the children enjoy.

The anniversary year started with a staff reunion in Dunmurry Golf Club last October. The big event in the middle term was the school show based on five decades of music and dance. This term sees Memorabilia Night on Thursday 27th May when all past pupils and staff will meet at the school for a night down memory lane. Colonel Robin Charley, on whose land the school is built and whose family crest is the school badge, will unveil a plaque in honour of the occasion. The year of celebration will close with a special Prize Day service involving all the churches in the community.

The school has many fine traditions such as music. The school continues to offer free tuition in string and woodwind and has maintained an orchestra and choir. In recent years guitar and keyboard have been added to the repertoire. As well as the standards of soccer and netball, a wide range of sports such as tag rugby, kwik cricket, athletics, swimming programme are offered throughout a year. In recognition of this, the school gained the prestigious Sportsmark award.

In the last decade the school has evolved as a community facility, offering extended schools
with adult classes for parents and grandparents. These activities include adult maths and literacy classes and in contrast adult dance and first aid classes. These classes have reached a high order with some parents achieving the City & Guilds qualification in maths and literacy and also an ONC in computers. Every day, for the children, begins with Breakfast Club and finishes with a curriculum enriching After School Club until after 5pm.

Our school also extends to a wider European community, having successfully completed eight years partnering with many European schools. Strong local links have grown up with Holy Child PS in our neighbouring community over 2 decades and continues to flourish. A whole-school Spanish language programme was introduced two years ago with the children continuing to enjoy learning a foreign language.

Recent years have seen a much bigger input from the pupils in deciding how the school develops. A Pupil School Council has been running for a number of years and has made a huge difference to the whole ethos of the school, introducing relaxation areas, new play resources and influencing decisions on school uniform.

A School Buddy System, comprising of senior pupils, helps support a warm, caring atmosphere for the children at lunchtime and also helps new arrivals settle in. The children have also developed a wild garden and pond area in which many environmental studies are enhanced by hands-on experiences and more recently a wormery and mini beast stack have been added.

Life an school has benefited from the social and fund raising activities of the PTA. Some remarkable facilities funded in this way include the Early Year Centre for Foundation classes, the school library and an ICT suite in which whole classes can study and work towards their IT Accreditation. PTA has had a major role in seeing that all classes in both key stages have interactive whiteboards.

A lot of planning goes into enlivening pupils' school experience with each term having an after-school activity programme based on crafts, sports and indoor clubs such as cookery, science and Scripture Union. A big item is the annual residential to the Mournes in which Year 6 and 7 pupils experience activities such as abseiling, rock climbing, canoeing and bouldering. Every other year our school also puts on a major school production, in which every child from Year 4 to Year 7 has the opportunity to perform on stage. This year was no exception and enjoyed a successful 50th anniversary show.

Seymour Hill's influence extends far and wide. Uniquely for a primary, the school has two special learning classes where children with learning difficulties come from all over the Greater Lisburn and Belfast areas to have their needs met. Nearly all these children return to mainstream education and attend their local high schools. These special classes were mentioned in the recent inspection as outstanding facilities by the inspectors.

Interestingly, a school like Seymour Hill PS, situated between two cities, sees its children at the end of Year 7 set off in many directions. Local grammar schools and high schools are on an extensive list of choice for leavers with each year the list averaging around ten schools.

The school inspection by the Department of Education commented on the positive, caring atmosphere and excellent teaching, placing the school in the top 10% of all primaries.

Ulster Star