Ahead of the Open Evening at St Columbanus' College, Bangor on Tuesday 14 January 2014 7pm to 9pm I have strong positive memories as a past pupil of the inclusive successful ethos that exists at St Columbanus' College enabling Pupils to prosper and realise their ambitions.
My own personal visit back to the School to attend the Annual Prize giving Ceremony on 24 October 2013 alongside constant ongoing contact with current Pupils and Parents verifies that this fantastic ethos and academic success continues today in 2013 led by two inspirational people - School Principal Liam Perry and Vice Principal Mrs McQuillan who helped ensure my own academic success back in 1993.
The religious make-up of St Columbanus is widely known with the College part of the Catholic Maintained Sector but yet mixed in terms of religious breakdown. Whilst others debate how our future educational system should look like they should stop and look at St Columbanus' College which is an amazing positive example of an inclusive school environment, educating children together in a culture of respect on the basis of fundamental principles embraced by most people of all faiths and none.
As someone from a Mixed Marriage background I was profoundly grateful to be educated in this environment and am delighted this educational success continues today, attracting Children and Young people from all backgrounds.
A School with such a positive track record shouldn't however be denied the right to a new School Building much longer. All the boxes are ticked and time has come for action to ensure future generations enjoy schooling in a modern fit for purpose building. My colleague at the NI Assembly Kieran McCarthy MLA has already asked why the new building hasn't been granted and I will continue to lobby the Department for Education to ensure real positive progress.