School News (24/08/23)

The Neill Buidling

The start of the new academic year is now upon us. I hope that you and your child had an enjoyable and restful break, despite the lack of sunshine, and I look forward to greeting current pupils and new Year 8 pupils as they arrive next week; it is an exciting time to be part of our school community.

This letter is to remind you of a few important dates and messages regarding the new term. Key dates have already been shared with you and are below. Please note the timing of some school closures have been amended.

 Friday 25th August 1 pm – 3 pm Pre-loved Uniform Sale (W10)
 1 pm – 3 pmYear 13 registration (Sports Hall) Parents welcome
 Monday 28th August School Closed August Bank Holiday
 Tuesday 29th August 9.30 am – 1 pmYear 14 Leadership Training (Palace Barracks)
 Wednesday 30th August 9 am – 12 noon Year 8 only – break provided
  10 am – 11 am New pupils Years 9-11
 Thursday 31st August 8.45 am – 12.15 pmAll pupils in school – form time and morning classes
 Friday 1st September 8.45 am – 3.20 pmAll pupils in school – full timetable

Please be aware that the early closures are because the canteen and dedicated school buses are not available to us as an Education Authority controlled school until 1st September. However, a bus to Comber will be available after school closes on Thursday 31st August.

Examination Results

In a year when the decline in top grades was well documented, we were delighted to increase the percentage of pupils awarded 3 A*-C grades. There were some stellar performances, with headline results from the following pupils:

  • Sophia Ebbinghaus A*A*A*
  • Head Girl, Martha McKinney A*A*A*
  • Katie Hutchinson A*A*A
  • Deputy Head Girl, Rachel Lyle A*AAA
  • Catherine Gordon A*AA
  • Lucy Kerr A*AA
  • Hazel Adair AAA
  • Kirsty Cowan AAA
  • Phoebe Qui AAA
  • Rachel Sweeney AAA
  • Maja Czechowska A*AB
  • Deputy Head Girl, Sarah Ewart A*AB
  • Katie Stevenson A*AB

Congratulations in particular to Phoebe, who has secured a place to study English at Cambridge University. Many other pupils performed amazingly well; Bloomfield Collegiate is a school that really adds value, and we wish all our leavers every success for the future.

Our GCSE results were similarly impressive, with great performances from our pupils. Some of the top grades are listed below, including the fabulous Boyd twins, who between them were awarded 16 A* and 4 A grades. What are not listed, but are equally, if not more, impressive are the grades of pupils who struggled with illness, were unable to attend school or who faced the most difficult of family circumstances; we are proud of them and their achievements.

  • Helen Boyd 9 A*, 1 A
  • Lauren Hamilton 8 A*, 2 A
  • Rachel McNally 8 A*, 2 A
  • Megan Boyd 7 A*, 3 A
  • Chloe Cowan 7 A*, 3 A
  • Lonni Wilson 7 A*, 3 A
  • Sophie Chapman 7 A*, 2 A
  • Julia Polikowska 6 A*, 4 A
  • Anna Hutchinson 6 A*, 3 A
  • Jessica Fielding 5 A*, 5A
  • Natalia Wisniewska 5 A*, 5 A
  • Lucy Ross 4 A*, 6 A
  • Sienna Cousin 4 A*, 5 A
  • Lucy Donnan 3 A*, 7A
  • Katelin Tourish 2 A*, 7 A
  • Aimee Mackenzie 9 A

If you have a query about your child’s results or think that the results are not correct, you can request an awarding body to carry out a review on your behalf. There are several services available, including clerical re-checks and reviews of marking. The cost of these services and application forms are available at reception.


As one of the most visible schools in East Belfast, uniform and appearance is important in demonstrating what an exceptional school we are. At the outset of this new academic year, I would stress the importance of your support as parent, guardian or carer in ensuring that your child arrives in school wearing uniform correctly; the following points may guide you:

  • A blazer must be worn both to and from school and in class unless permission is given to remove it.
  • If it is a cold or wet day, or wearing PE kit to school (see below), a regulation school jacket or school puffa jacket may be worn over the blazer or hoody, and removed when in school. No other jackets or fleeces are permissible.
  • To make the judgement of skirt length manageable, please note that skirts should be knee length and must not be rolled up at the waist.
  • School shoes must be plain black leather with flat heels. Black trainers and rubber or canvas shoes, and coloured stitching or laces, are not permissible.
  • No more than one plain stud earring may be worn in each ear. No other ear or facial piercings are permissible.
  • False nails, false eyelashes and unnaturally coloured hair must be removed or washed out before return to school.
  • When wearing PE kit, pupils have the option of wearing plain black or plain black Kukri leggings, Kukri leggings with blue trim or the green school tracksuit bottoms. Other branded leggings are not allowed, nor are any leggings with see through/mesh sections.
  • Due to the numbers changing, PE kit may be worn to and from school on days when timetabled for Games only but not on days with timetabled PE or extra-curricular activities. When wearing PE kit to and from school, only PE hoodies should be worn. Other hoodies or fleeces, including those issued by organisations within school, should not be worn.

Please note that our annual pre-loved uniform sale will be held on Friday 25th August (details above); I would encourage you to avail of this opportunity.

Mobile Phones

In keeping with our policy, pupils should not be using mobile phones in school unless with the permission of, and under the supervision of, a member of staff. If a pupil needs to contact you, they may do so at reception with permission. We will always contact you directly when necessary.

Last year, we again had to deal with a variety of issues where parents were contacting their children directly during the school day. This is not helpful in the running of the school; if you need to contact your child during school hours, please do so via reception.

Mental Health

It may be that your child feels anxious about the return to school. EA has developed a resource for parents to help support children, which can be found here:

Should you have serious concerns, please contact the form teacher who can then ensure that we can offer the appropriate support. As previously, we will be continuing with our weekly counselling sessions facilitated by Familyworks NI and will use outside agencies to address issues directly with form classes and year groups.

Staffing Update

In what is an exciting time for the School, we are delighted to welcome the following new members of staff. I have included those who joined us in the final months of last year.

  • Mr Neil Dillon Business Studies & IT
  • Ms Laura Haggan RE & LLW
  • Ms Emma Louise Martelli Biology
  • Mrs Amanda Martin Art
  • Mr Curtis Montgomery Physics
  • Mrs Tammie Rea Psychology & Sociology
  • Miss Anna Smyth Mathematics
  • Mr Micah Stevenson Geography & Games
  • Dr Scarlett Swann Head of Chemistry
  • Mrs Ashleigh Thomson Vice Principal
  • Mrs Lynn Wallace Head of Physics

Leaving us are:

  • Dr Julie Greeves Head of Chemistry & Science
  • Mrs Roberta Hamilton RE
  • Ms Stephanie James Biology Technician
  • Dr Joel Katzen Physics
  • Miss Rebecca Murray History
  • Mrs Colleen Reilly Psychology
  • Mrs Janet Walls RE & English Support

As noted in our summer update, Mrs Julie McWilliams, Head of Art, is availing of a career break this year. We wish her and her family well. Mrs Emma McFerran will be acting Head of Department in her absence.

It was remiss of me not to note that Ms Colleen Magill, a past pupil, was appointed to the role of Chemistry Technician last year. She was joined in a temporary capacity by Miss Alex McCoy, another past pupil. Alex has gained a place on the Queen’s University Science Technician course and will be leaving us; we wish her well.

Some of you will know that our caretaker, Mr William Parker, has been recovering from illness. In his absence, Mr Joe Rea and Mr David Morrow have been looking after the fabric of the school. We wish William well as he continues with his recovery.


I know that you will have been affected by the recent financial crisis, and will know that the education sector in Northern Ireland is facing one of its most difficult years ever. As a Controlled Grammar School, we benefit from an open and inclusive ethos which provides opportunities to all, regardless of religion, ethnicity and social status. Our current voluntary contribution to school funds provides funds for IT infrastructure, sports coaching and facility hire, engagement of outside agencies and other areas of benefit to our pupils. It is excellent value for money, and I would encourage you to sign up if you have not already done so.

Next year, as part of our new School Development Plan, we will be engaging more with our local community to see how we can benefit one another. If you as an individual, or in your role within a business, would like to discuss how you can assist our School through sponsorship, donation or ideas for fundraising, please contact me directly.

Summer update

Twenty-two of our CCF cadets had a most successful Summer Camp in Liverpool in July. Many thanks to Ms Andersen, Miss Murray and all of the adult volunteers for giving up their time to attend. As always, the feedback regarding our girls was overwhelmingly positive.

Work has been conducted onsite this summer to upgrade our WiFi. This will be of enormous benefit to learning and teaching throughout the school. Our reputation for use of IT, coordinated by Mr Chris Turner, has led to us hosting a training session for 30 Primary School teachers prior to the start of term. This is a prestigious event and demonstrates our commitment to the use of IT to facilitate learning for all.

We have been compiling a new parental handbook, which will contain important processes, contact details and policies. Mrs Susan Barrett from our Senior Team has led this process, and we will be distributing this within the next few weeks.

Mrs Emma McFerran, Head of Year 14, recently received a letter from Mr Jeremy Green, CEO of the Go MAD in Tanzania charity in which he praised three of our pupils who volunteered in Africa this summer, leavers Rachel Sweeney and Emily Jackson, and current Year 14 pupil Maya Newell. As always, the altruism shown by so many of our pupils is humbling.

Congratulations to Lara King, Year 13, who competed at the Irish Summer Nationals Swimming Championships in Dublin in July, winning the Gold medal in the 1500m and Bronze in the 800m.

Rebekah Murdoch, Year 13, will be competing in the World Highland Dancing Championships in Dunoon, Scotland this week. You can follow her progress here:

Thank you to seven of our incoming Year 14 pupils who together acted as a guard of honour for past Head Girl and current Governor, Mrs Claire Newell (nee Compston) at her recent wedding. We wish them every blessing in their future together.

Dietary Requirements

If your child has any special dietary requirements as outlined in the guidance which can be found by following the link below, the appropriate form should be completed and returned to school as soon as possible. Copies can also be obtained from Mrs Susan Johnston (


This is an exceptional school. We will be contacting you regularly for your feedback and ideas throughout the year. I look forward to your full involvement in our school community, and wish you and your families a happy and successful academic year.

principal's signature

Mr Greer


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