Four Corners’ Festival at Ulster University

On Friday 3 February five EBALC schools attended an event, entitled Different Dreams, organised by Belfast’s Four Corners’ Festival committee in conjunction with Ulster University. The event was aimed at encouraging Year 10 pupils who might not have thought of going to university at this point in their lives to consider applying to university as a possible option in the future.

Pupils were invited to participate in three out of six workshops on offer. These were in:


• Basic skills in Marketing and Entrepreneurship
• Forensic Science
• Introduction to Basic First Aid
• Smart Phone Photography
• Ceramics - the art of clay
• Creative Movement - a pathway to acting  

The workshops were organised in such a way to give pupils from all four corners of Belfast the opportunity to mingle and share experiences.

The interactive workshops were delivered by a range of experts from within and outside Ulster University and were greatly enjoyed by the pupils attending. A number of pupils interviewed after the workshops said they had been inspired to think of different careers and now would consider the university route as an option.

The event was supported at various points during the day by representatives from UU, the clergy, political parties, the Lord Mayor of Belfast and Peter Weir (Minister for Education).

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“The Day of Ambition” at Bloomfield Collegiate

“The Day of Ambition” at Bloomfield Collegiate on 6th December brought together 8 schools from East Belfast with some of our most exciting local entrepreneurs and innovation companies. The theme for the day was “Stretch Yourself” with pupils experiencing opportunities that exist in the world of innovation and creativity.

There were interactive workshops and opportunities for almost 300 Year 11 pupils to network with some of Northern Ireland’s coolest entrepreneurs and cutting-edge employers.

Part of the event was also streamed live on the web. We were also delighted that Naomi Long, MLA, was able to attend and lend her support to the event.

A big thank you must go to the Department for Communities for helping support the event, to the CONNECT team at Catalyst for its organisational assistance and to the senior girls at Bloomfield for the effort they put into the event to ensure it went off with a bang.


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EBALC Twilight Training Session

EBALC Twilight Training session for HODs / Subject Leaders 2nd February, 4.00 - 6.00pm at Lagan College.

Topic: Managing Conversations:
How to achieve positive outcomes from meetings, whether with colleagues or parents. (Scenario based approach.)

Trainer is Paul Gray from Learn Spark. Places still available to book through your Curriculum Leader.


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Forthcoming event: 6th December 2016 - Year 11 'Day of Ambition'

The event will run from 9.15am - 2.30pm. The programme is being finalised but the event is funded by the Department of Communities and we expect around 300 pupils from EBALC schools to attend.

They are also hoping to stream part of the event live via C2K support, which is an exciting addition to the activities for the day. 14 local companies have committed to the day so far.


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Classroom Assistant Training Event

This event was organized by the EBALC SENCOs in response to a need for professional development opportunities that had been identified amongst Classroom Assistants. This demand for such an event was reflected in the very pleasing turnout of 60 – 70 Classroom Assistants over the course of the three sessions held during the day. 5 SENCOs were also able to be present. We were also delighted that some Classroom Assistants from WBALC wanted to join us to see if it would be of value running a similar event for WBALC schools.


The programme involved three speakers:
Sue Boyd, from the Peripatetic Support Service, who, in a very restricted time allocation, explained succinctly what dyslexia was, what strategies Classroom Assistants could use to help dyslexic pupils access the curriculum and how they might amend resources to make them more dyslexia friendly.


Gillian Cuthbert, from the Behaviour Support team, engaged with the audience in a humorous way to give them guidance on dealing with challenging pastoral situations in relation to pupils with additional educational needs.

Enhancing Classroom Assistants’ skills of positive listening formed an integral part of this session. She also gave some pointers in dealing with worries associated with the transition from Primary to post-Primary education.

Heather Kennedy, from the ASD Advisory Service, gave an overview of what having ASD meant for pupils with these difficulties and explained how Classroom Assistants could support such pupils through stressful times and build resilience. She applied also showed how this could be applied when pupils were moving from Primary to post-Primary education – potentially a very stressful process for pupils with ASD.

The oral feedback from staff attending was very positive. They all felt they had acquired much useful knowledge and guidance that could be applied in their respective schools. A detailed evaluation of the event has been completed and will be circulated to schools in the autumn.

Thanks must also go to Fortwilliam Resource Centre for providing such excellent facilities for the event.


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Head of Year Training Event

The aims of the event were:

1. To enable Heads of Year to improve:
• the management of the transition from Primary to Post-Primary school from a pastoral perspective
• support for students with mental health issues
2. To provide practical strategies that will enable Pastoral Leaders to:
• effectively lead their team of Form Tutors
• deal with those Form Tutors resistant to change
3. To enhance collaboration between the Pastoral Teams of EBALC schools.

38 Heads of Year and 7 Vice Principals attended the event – a very pleasing turnout!

The speakers were:
• Mary Early, a P7 teacher from St Joseph’s PS, Carryduff, who gave her perspective on some of the pastoral issues faced by pupils
transferring to post-primary education and how receiving schools could assist in making this transition process as smooth as possible
• Phyllis Coulter, a psychotherapist, who talked about how to best support pupils with a range of mental health issues
• Paul Gray from LearnSpark who led two sessions, really engaging with the audience to give guidance on the leadership of Form
Tutors, especially when having a difficult conversation was called for, and how to empower Form Tutors and manage change.

All the speakers and the activities on the day were very well received. A full evaluation of the event will be presented to the Pastoral VP Group at the first meeting of next term.

A special thanks must go to the main organiser of the event - Deborah McLaughlin, Chair of the Pastoral VP Group - for providing such an excellent venue and hospitality for the event.


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