Crucial to our achievements in the academic field are our teachers. Dedicated and devoted, our teachers are subject specialists with impressive qualifications and many years of experience teaching to the highest standards. Unstinting in their willingness to give time to their pupils on an individual as well as a collective basis, they work long hours to ensure that our pupils are stimulated and challenged by their lessons during the day and studies in the evenings and at weekends.
Significantly, especially in a boarding school, more than half of our teaching staff are resident in the school grounds. This allows them to work with their charges outside the classroom as well as in it, and it also adds significantly to our sense of a scholarly community working together for the common good.
Facilities for study at St. Columba's are second to none. Almost all teachers have dedicated classrooms with laptops and digital projectors. There is a campus-wide computer network which is wireless and supported in part by cabling. All pupils have desks in their dormitories and the College library is, we believe, unsurpassed anywhere in Ireland both as a place to work and a learning resource. It is open daily from 8.45am until 10.00pm. Each evening, sixth form pupils take their prep in this beautiful and spacious location. There are around 11,000 books on display and the College enjoys and promotes a strong reading culture among the pupil body. The Masterman library, which is dedicated to careers and higher education, is a further useful resource for senior pupils.
The College benefits from the smallest class sizes of any secondary school in Ireland. In forms I ' III, we average 15 pupils per class and in forms IV ' VI, the average is around 10. Our pupil / teacher ratio is an enviable 7:1, thus reinforcing our desire to give individual attention to all.
Pupils at St. Columba's take the Irish Junior Certificate at the end of form III and the Irish Leaving Certificate at the end of form VI. This latter examination is recognised as a means of gaining entry to almost all institutions of higher education in Europe, America and elsewhere. Traditionally, about 50% of Columban leavers enter higher education in the UK, with the remainder staying in Ireland, usually to take up places at Trinity College or University College in Dublin. Occasionally, leavers opt for universities in Europe, S. Africa, New Zealand and the United States.
Academic results in the College are outstanding by any reliable indicator or measure. We publish all of our results annually and believe that these are among the very best in the country. In 2009, for example, our pupils scored an average in their Leaving Certificate of 445 points, equivalent to just under five grade As per candidate. 32% scored more than 500 points, equivalent to 5 A1 grades. Two candidates scored a maximum 600 points, one with 8 A grades. The national average points score is around 300 points.
Results such as these have been achieved over a number of years, such that our average points score in the Leaving Certificate over the past number of years equates to 438. In terms of UCAS, the British points scoring scheme for entry to its universities, this average score equates to around 340 points or two grade As and a grade B on average.
Contact with parents is maintained by a variety of means, both written and verbal. Regular meetings with parents take place during the year when all subject teachers discuss pupils' individual progress with parents. From time to time, such meetings are also arranged on an ad hoc basis. In addition to this, detailed reports are written by teachers for every subject three times each year at the end of the Michaelmas, Hilary and Trinity terms. Finally, pupils are given effort grades in every subject approximately every two weeks in term, and details of these are sent to parents at the end of each term. By these means, the College is able to monitor closely the progress of all its pupils and to intervene positively where results are not commensurate with an individual's ability.
St. Columba's is proud of its academic achievements and is committed to the continued pursuit of excellence for all its pupils in the years to come.
Dr. L. J. Haslett Warden