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26th February 2015

This morning (Saturday) ++Michael will attend the Ven. Fr John Sullivan SJ mass in St Francis Xavier’s church, Gardner Street, Dublin where the celebrant will be Archbishop Diarmuid Martin.

Bishop Michael - It is a great joy for me to reflect as an Anglican on the person and on the holiness of John Sullivan SJ. As it happens, his secondary schooling was in the same school as my own, that is in Portora Royal School, Enniskillen, County Fermanagh. I, however, make no claim whatsoever to holiness, nor indeed do I hear of anyone else queuing up to make any such claim on my behalf. Portora and Clongowes have for many years now shared a literary and a creative heritage in celebration of the fact that Samuel Beckett was a pupil of the one and James Joyce a pupil of the other. This link has also fostered the burgeoning of understanding of reconciliation and peace, of society and respect on the part of young people who are critical and contributing members of communities North and South, communities nonetheless that still have all the ingredients for distortion and misunderstanding.

Scripture Union

• Junior and Senior SU meetings on Monday lunchtimes this term have been exploring the Fruit of the Spirit with meetings led by teachers, senior committee and guest speakers
• SU weekend in Portadown with the Collegiate was a great success – Jeff Gawn spoke on theme of PRAYER and pupils led quizzes, games and a late night Apprentice challenge
• Future plans – SHINE events will be run in school in March including a breakfast club and some special events at lunchtimes – watch out on notice boards for more information.


Portora 1608 Choir submitted an entry for the BBC Ulster Choir of the Year and made it into the semi-finals which were held on Friday, 13 February at Mt. Lourdes. Choirs in this heat included Mt. Lourdes, Bloomfield Grammar (Belfast), St. Aidan’s, Erne Integrated. We did not make it to the final round but the response to the choir was very positive. 53 boys and 4 girls, with solos by Tully Irvine, Yr. 11 and Jamie Gibson, Year 14. The Choir was given great encouragement by one of the adjudicators, Dominic Peckham, Director of the Ulster Youth Choir.
We have recently purchased 18 African Djembe drums for the music department. We managed to get these through a fair trade distributor, direct from the makers in Africa. They are hand-carved wood and are packed in protective bags made of authentic African design. Both years 9 and 10 will be using them this year, giving 150 students the chance to play an instrument. They have also been used already to support the rugby teams at the last two home matches. Purchase was arranged by our new percussion instructor, Ronan McKee, from the WELB. He will be providing a workshop for the year 9 students very soon. This is a great asset to the department and one that the boys have responded to most positively

GCSE Classical Civilisation, offered as short and full course options for sixth form students as an alternative to General Studies, is running for a third successive year. It has proven popular with the sixth form, with the biggest uptake so far this year. Last year there was a 100% pass rate, with eight Y13 students obtaining their Short Course qualification and two Y14 students obtaining their Full Course qualification. At the moment there are four Y14 students studying for their Full Course GCSE and seven Y13 students studying for their Short Course GCSE.

Latin: Tully Irvine and Brandon Hutchinson (Year 11) achieved Level 1 Cambridge Latin Certificate. A new group will soon be starting Latin. 

Charities Committee - Talent Shows (Junior and Senior) : 12th December. Great fun, lots of fantastic talent, excellent compere in Richard Armstrong. Organising a non-uniform day at the end of this term, along with something to do with Richard’s beard!


• Belfast telegraph , impartial , Fermanagh herald and Fermanagh council awards all won this month for the work of the rowers in 2014
• Irish indoor rowing championship in limerick in January . Barney rix won Gold j18 , aaron Johnston Gold junior 16 .
• Irish rowing trials . Boys finished 1st second and 3rd at trials in the pairs and Girls pair alos won, many will go onto representing Ireland this Summer in either the Junior Europeans or Home Countries.
• Lagan head . Boys won j8 , j 4 , j 16 4 and girls won j 8 , J 16 8+
• Erne head of River this coming weekend when 70 boys and girls will be taking part
• Coming up ; lagan small boats head and then into the regatta season starting in Dublin on Saturday 4th April.

French Exchange

16 Portorans in Lyon from 28th Nov to the 7th December 2014
Return leg last month from 23rd January to 2nd February 2015. 16 pupils + 2 teachers
Portorans visited Lyon during the Lumières Festival, went to Annecy and the Alps…
French pupils visited Bellek Pottery, Omagh American Folk Park, Derry Walls and Bogside, reception in Town Hall by Fermanagh Council Chairman B Johnston


The Department of Education require every school to have an Attendance Policy. This can be found on the website and sets out the procedures for parents when students are absent.
It is a parent/guardian’s responsibility to inform the school of the reason for a student’s absence on the first day of absence. This should be confirmed with a written note when the student returns to school. If the absence is likely to be prolonged, this information should be provided to enable the school to assist with homework or any other necessary arrangements which may be required.
If the school does not receive written confirmation of a student’s absence within five days of the student’s return to school, a letter will be sent to parents/carers containing a pro forma to be completed and returned to the school within three days. The school will apply disciplinary sanctions against the student if no written explanation for absence is forthcoming.
Students are expected to be in school at Portora Royal School for registration and the beginning of classes. It is the responsibility of parents to ensure that their child is punctual. Lateness is recorded at registration and recorded each student’s attendance record.
If a student appears reluctant to attend school it is the reasonable expectation of the school that his or her parents discuss the matter promptly with the student’s Tutor to ensure that both parents and student receive maximum support.

Each student has a duty to ensure that he or she attends school punctually and regularly. If a student has been absent from school, a written note from a parent/guardian must be provided on the student’s return. This should be left in the designated box in Reception.

Under the direction of the Department of Education, Portora Royal school discourages holidays during term-time due to the impact they have on students’ learning. Family holidays during term time will be categorised as an unauthorised absence. Only in exceptional circumstances will a holiday be authorised.

I know that parents understand the need for structure and consistency in the school community. They like their sons and daughters to be well-presented, polite and considerate and expect the school to reinforce these values. In fact, schools are judged in the wider community by the way their students look and conduct themselves every bit as well as academic results. It is our experience that no student wants to attract negative comments on his or her appearance. Unfortunately, in their pursuit of individual style, students sometimes clash with school rules. There is no area more contentious as Hair Styles. The school rule is straightforward and is contained in the school prospectus and the Information Book (p.6). : “Hair-styles should be appropriate for school and not extreme in terms of style or colour”. We accept that there is an element of subjectivity in the definition of extreme and we try to refine the ruile with objectivity as far as possible. One approach is to regard as extreme any hair-style which might be out of proportion when considered as a part of the whole appearance of the student: that is, it is the first and main thing by which the individual is perceived. Recently, we have been faced with the quandary of how to respond to hair-styles in which hair is being very short at the side and longer on top. The rule in these cases will be this: if a haircut is so short as to expose a significant part of the student’s scalp, then it will be considered “extreme” and the student will be liable to disciplinary sanctions.
The purpose of a dress and Appearance Code is to ensure uniformity of appearance within accepted parameters. It is never an easy area but the school is governed by expectations of a larger public as much as the needs of individual students.

Recently, with several high-profile rugby matches being played on our home pitches, it was necessary to limit parking at the pitches. May I thank you for your cooperation on this matter? It was a matter of safety. Large groups of pedestrians do not mix well with large numbers of cars and it is imperative that the Ambulance and residents have clear access and exit.
The same principle has been governing our request to parents not to drive to the terrace or back car-park to drop students off in the morning. There are several hundred young people who do not expect to dodge cars when in school. Many are dropped off on the terrace by three large Ulster Buses. The potential is high for traffic jam with attendant dangers to the welfare of your children.
For a period of time, Senior Teachers have manned the entrance to the driveways at the front and back of the school. For the most part they have met with courtesy and understanding but a few – thankfully, a very few – parents have ignored them and increased speed as they drove past. Please desist.

We are coming to the end of the internal examination season and by the end of this term parents of year 12, 13 and 14 students will have received comprehensive reports on your sons’ and daughters’ progress. In most cases, your children can look forward to moving on in the school to study at a higher level: from GCSE to AS levels, from AS to A2 (and of course, from A2 to University and College courses). However, just as the move to university is governed by achievement in examinations, so the transitions from GCSE to AS and AS to A2 at Portora are governed by academic requirements. We do not want students to fail. We offer extensive support beyond the school day to ensure that they do not and we have benchmarks of achievement which reflect the collective experience of teachers. We know that if a student does not make particular grades in either GCSE or AS levels then he or she is unlikely to succeed at a higher level in the subjects we have to offer. In cases were a student fails to achieve the benchmarks, we will encourage him or her to look at more suitable courses elsewhere in which success might be more likely. It is not a matter of rejecting a student because we regard him or her to have failed, it is a matter of helping that student access courses in which they have a better chance of success. In all cases, our careers’ teachers will be involved in discussions.
We regard these safeguards as part of our duty of care for students. Portora is a small school with small resources; we can afford only to offer a limited number of academic subjects, we require students in year 13 to study four of them. A levels are not for everyone. No student should be subjected to two years of misery and then failure because they have enrolled in subjects they do not like and for which they have little aptitude.

Full Attendance Policy (Word document)