The Ballyclare Cluster

A PSTT Cluster Network in County Antrim, Northern Ireland

OVERVIEW

PSTT Cluster Programme commenced 2016

The Ballyclare Cluster is based in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. An historic relationship between two of the participating schools has been built upon to form a cohesive group of 5 schools. Initially, the cluster was structured in two parts - a KS1 / Foundation cluster and a KS2 cluster. The PSTT programme compliments the cluster’s work in a number of existing networks; leading to further development and a proactive, outward looking cluster.

Cluster Lead: Neil McAllister


SCHOOLS

The five, current, participating schools are listed below. Please complete the Contact Us form if you wish to discuss any potential involvement with this Cluster.
Contact from this Cluster has also been made with the Ballyclare Secondary School.

Cluster schools:

Fairview Primary School (Lead School)
Hillmount Avenue
Ballyclare
Co. Antrim
BT39 9HS

Ballyclare Primary School
Doagh Road
Ballyclare
Co. Antrim
BT39 9BG

The Thompson Primary School
42 Mossley Road
Ballyrobert
Co. Antrim
BT39 9RX

Doagh Primary School
20 Main Street
Doagh
Co. Antrim
BT39 0QL

Tir-na-Nog Primary School
60 Doagh Road
Ballyclare
BT39 9BG

VISION

Neil McAllister, the Cluster Lead, has outlined the vision of the Ballyclare Cluster below:

“I want to develop a learning community in the Ballyclare area for science. There is no history of the schools working together. Last year, the three large schools (Fairview, Ballyclare and Mossley) agreed to host an inter school challenge each term. Ballyclare hosted a literacy challenge, Mossley are hosting a numeracy challenge and Fairview will host a STEM challenge in Summer term. This initial steps towards working together has paved the way for communication amongst the schools regarding a science cluster. I want the cluster to be an opportunity for staff to share science full topics and lessons. I want to provide training based on what I am picking up at PSTT events and also use the expertise from fellow Fellows. I see the cluster in two groups so all parts of the school is being enhanced. At times, the two groups will come together. This means the focus of discussion and sharing will be right where participants need it to be. I want to be able to share resources – each school will know what other schools have and can call upon extra resources as required.

I want the science cluster to have an immediate impact on pupils. Learning experiences should be greatly enhanced. Science should be active, investigative, exciting. Teachers sharing ideas can make this happen. Resources can be bulk bought and shared around. I see a community element as well. Science weeks in schools were other cluster schools are invited. CSI evenings, outdoor learning extravaganzas using school grounds and also local shared space, parent and child STEM challenges.

I have developed links with the local Secondary School who are very keen for us to visit their labs, take part in experiments and investigations and also provide pupils up to primary classrooms for class and after school clubs. Both local grammar schools have offered equipment as required as well.

I see a huge opportunity with this cluster and I know this vision is shared with all the teachers I have spoken to regarding being part of the cluster. Our Primary Curriculum does not encourage science but has so much scope for excellent science experiences to be provided. With principals on board and teachers in the schools keen to be actively involved, there is a huge opportunity to give science the priority it deserves in Ballyclare.”

Neil would like all schools to achieve a PSQM award as part of being within the Ballyclare Cluster.

ACTIVITIES

Key Achievements:

  • Partnership with TAPS – developing Northern Island tasks.
  • Link with Stranmillis College – Co teaching with students around TAPS.
  • PSQM Gold for two schools in the cluster.
  • One school has applied for first Green Flag this year with support from FPS.
  • CSI day in FPS – attended by Cluster Schools’ P6 pupils
  • Sharing of good practice and collaborative support.
  • Year 1 CSI event has created a culture of schools working together to promote science.
  • Year 2 Great Science Share – showcasing the good work going on in cluster schools with pupils talking about science and demonstrating to other pupils, teachers and invited guests
  • Cluster schools supporting development of new skills progression from CCEA.
  • Using TAPS has helped create a platform for science to have a high profile in schools’ SDP.


Key Areas of Impact:

  • Sharing of good practice and collaborative support.
  • Year 1 CSI event has created a culture of schools working together to promote science.
  • Year 2 Great Science Share – showcasing the good work going on in cluster schools with pupils talking about science and demonstrating to other pupils, teachers and invited guests
  • Cluster schools supporting development of new skills progression from CCEA.
  • Using TAPS has helped create a platform for science to have a high profile in schools’ SDP.

CONTACT

To find out more information about our cluster programme or how you can you get involved please feel free to contact us and we will respond as soon as possible.

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