With One Voice
Scenes from ‘Oliver’
school drama in 2018
We hope that you enjoy reading this prospectus
We are a welcoming, inclusive school whose aim is to provide opportunities for all our pupils, enabling
them to realise their true potential, academically, socially, spiritually and personally.
We seek to foster a spirit of respect and understanding in each child in an environment which in turn is
secure, supportive and caring; in which our pupils feel valued and esteemed.
As a school of 800 pupils divided into four houses, we believe our size and structure, helps us to
develop as a close family community where students from different year groups are able to work
together and support each other in many aspects of their learning, particularly in extra-curricular activity.
We are a learning school where the learning experience is effective, enjoyable and empowering and
where our students are encouraged and supported to aim high and to work hard.We provide many
opportunities outside normal class time to enrich the whole learning experience, enabling them to go
out into the world as confident, mature young men and women, well prepared for all the challenges of
the 21st century.
We are committed to working in partnership with our parents, constantly aware of the value of their
support and the importance of their role.We have state of the art ICT facilities to support learning and
sporting facilities second to none.We pride ourselves on the excellent staff-student relationships and on
the effectiveness of our Pastoral Care provision for students
As a Catholic school we work to build upon the values of family and home to foster a strong sense of
faith in our pupils. Above all we are a school which recognises the uniqueness of each child, the wonder
of each child and their potential for greatness.We certainly see it as a privilege to be entrusted with the
education of all the boys and girls who come here.We strive to provide a truly Aquinas education; an
education and experience that will support your child throughout their future lives.
I thank you for taking the time to read through our prospectus.We hope it gives you a small insight into
the life of our school and some of the activities and opportunities that we provide for our pupils. As you
visit our school and meet our students, I am sure the young boys and girls you encounter will be role
models of the values you hope for in your own child. I hope you will feel confident in choosing Aquinas
for your child for the next seven years of their education.
Mr Barry Kel
1 realise true potential, academically, spiritually and personally...
Aquinas Diocesan Grammar School
is a Catholic school open and welcoming to people of other faiths and none...
Aquinas Diocesan Grammar School has as its Patron Saint, Thomas Aquinas, the Dominican friar who lived
between 1225 and 1274 and who is acknowledged as one of the most influential philosophers and theologians in
the Scholastic tradition to have ever lived. A Doctor of the Church, Pope Leo XIII declared him in 1880 to be the
Patron Saint of all Catholic universities, colleges and schools.
In Aquinas we wish our pupils to share that love of learning with their patron St Thomas, but even more
importantly, we wish them to share his love of God and holiness of life.
As a Catholic school we believe in the importance of daily prayer both in the classroom and in the more formal
setting of our school chapel, where we celebrate the seasons and feast days of the Church year through liturgies
including Class and Year Group Masses on the First Fridays of the terms. These are celebrated by our full time
Chaplain who is a priest of the diocese of Down and Connor. Our pupils are encouraged to play an active role in
the creation and celebration of these liturgies and a Sixth Form team of students help with the day to day running
of our purpose built Chaplaincy building. Indeed, our Eucharistic Ministers consist not only of staff members but
also of sixth formers nominated by their peers, prepared within school and instituted into their extraordinary
ministry at the Opening of the Year Mass. All of this and more ensures that the practice of the Catholic faith is not
separated from the rest of daily life within the school community.
Aquinas is a Catholic school that welcomes pupils of other Christian churches, world faiths and people of no faith.
At the heart of our ethos is our motto from St John’s Gospel, chapter 8, verses 31 and 32: the Truth shall set you
free and we endeavour to live by these words of Christ through developing the God-given talents of all our pupils,
and forming attitudes and values in our young people which are based on these words of scripture and the other
teachings and actions of Jesus Christ.
We believe firmly in living by the two greatest Commandments to love the Lord your God with all your heart and
with all your soul and with all your mind and your neighbour as yourself (Matthew 22: 36 – 40). We teach our pupils
about justice, to act justly and to reach out to our suffering and marginalised brothers and sisters through our
charity work which continues throughout the school year but which has a particular thrust in our Catholics Caring
campaign during the season of Advent and our Trocaire fundraising during Lent.
In Aquinas we want our students from the youngest to the most senior to adopt a way of looking at the world
which is positive and which seeks to change the world for the better. This is not confined to the classroom; we bring
our pupils out of school on Retreat at key moments in their academic career. These occur at the end of Junior
School in Year 10; during GCSE studies in Year 12 and, as their time in secondary education comes to an end, in Year
14. These special days, held in local Retreat Centres in Belfast, both consolidate and celebrate their experience of an
Aquinas education, giving them as many opportunities as possible to grow as a community and encounter the
person of Jesus Christ, the Truth who shall set us free. Our aim will always be to give our young people as many
opportunities as possible to develop a personal relationship of faith with Him that is made manifest in the way they
live their lives both now and in the years to come.
Faith in Action
...the truth shall
set you free...
Aquinas Diocesan Grammar School is a Catholic school community within
which both staff and students work in the pursuit of all aspects of spiritual,
educational and personal excellence.
To achieve this we have the following aims:
To promote the spiritual welfare of every member of the school community.
To foster to the highest possible degree the academic development of each student.
To establish a creative and secure educational partnership between the school,
our parents and the wider community.
To provide a Pastoral Care System to meet the needs of all students throughout
their school career.
To seek to promote a sense of continuity, coherence and achievement in each student’s
educational experience.
To develop attitudes and opportunities through which our students may become
responsible members of society.
To prepare our students for a rapidly changing adult world of work, leisure and
To foster within the school community respect for the personal and intellectual integrity
of each and every individual.
We firmly believe that our pupils have a much better chance of reaching their full potential and
developing their many talents in a caring and supportive environment. We wish our pupils to look
forward to coming to school, where expectations are not only high but achievable for each individual.
As well as the widest range of subjects, Aquinas has an extensive extra-curricular programme and a
pastoral care system which places your child at the heart of our school.
Our Vision
The Mall at Lunchtime
A community as one
Orchestra with Mrs McWilliams
Aquinas Diocesan Grammar School is a community built on a foundation of
Christian values of care and respect for the individual. At the heart of this
school community lies the individual child who benefits from and contributes
to this community.
The aims of the Pastoral Care System in Aquinas are:
To help all students participate as fully as possible in the learning experiences in school.
To contribute to the personal growth and development of each student.
To help students relate positively and with respect for others, both within and outside
the school community.
In general, these aims will find expression in the good relationships established between all members of
the school community. Each student in the school belongs to a Tutor Group. The Tutor Group meets
with the Tutor for 10 minutes at the start of the school day and also for one form period per week.
The Tutor has primary responsibility for the pastoral and academic welfare of their students and is thus
in an excellent position to liaise with each student’s subject teachers and with parents. They are the first
point of contact for parents.
Each tutor group is also a member of a school House. They are St Brigid, St Frances, St John Paul 2 and
St Patrick. The House system plays a major role in the school’s positive behaviour policy with the
Pastoral Care system. Each House has a head, a role fulfilled by a member of the CLT team.
Each year group has a Yearhead who leads the tutors in the year group. The Yearhead is responsible for
the overall well-being of the pupils helping the tutors to meet all the needs of the pupils. The Yearhead
organises the pastoral curriculum for the pupils, often bringing in outside expertise for assemblies when
and where the need arises.
Each Key stage has a Central Leadership Team member linked to it. The link member supports the
Yearheads in managing their teams and year group.
All our pastoral policies are reviewed regularly by the Pastoral Vice-principal who is also the Designated
Teacher for Child Protection. The Pastoral Care System was reviewed in 2013/14 by a working group
which evaluated and re-viewed the school policy and all aspects of Pastoral Care in Aquinas Grammar.
Two significant changes to our previous system were the reintroduction of our revised Positive
Behaviour Policy and the creation of a whole school House System. In 2015 new Sanctions and Safer
internet policies were also reintroduced. The Prefect system in the school has also been revamped. It
is reviewed every year with new innovative roles such as Mental Health Prefects, Anti-bullying Prefects
along with our usual existing Prefect roles. All of the policies are now fully embedded and would
indicate that all are adding to the already effective pastoral system that has emanated the school since
1993. All Pastoral policies in the school are reviewed on a yearly basis.
Pastoral Care
Supporting each other
and those in need...
To enable our new students to adjust to their new school experience the
tutorial programme aims to:
Promote a sense of security and establish a feeling of belonging.
Develop the skills of social interaction and a positive self image.
Establish a caring community within the Tutor Group.
Lay the foundations for study skills.
Encourage each student to review their progress.
Provide excellent careers advice for the students
Promote a Catholic ethos
We understand the emotional and intellectual challenges that the transition from Primary to
Grammar school poses for our Year Eight students. And so it is for this reason that the Tutors and Year
Head, with the support of the staff as a whole, aim to help the new students adapt with ease.
Practical guidance is offered on how to cope with the demands of new subjects, to organise books
and personal equipment, to adjust to different types of homework, and to find a comfortable niche in
Aquinas life.
Year 8 parents are invited to a Mass of Welcome and Induction Evening at the end of September. The
purpose of this is to provide advice and support, to give them a flavour of the different experiences
their children are enjoying in the school and to allow them to meet the Year 8 Tutors in an informal
setting. Year 8 pupils also have two Study Skills mornings during which they have a variety of different
workshops, talks and activities, all aimed at improving the pupils’ understanding of how to learn and
work successfully.
This programme now extends to Years 11, 12, 13 and 14 students to help them understand and meet
the demands of their new courses, subjects and Career’s options. These Induction evenings are also
preceded by a meeting with parents to inform them not only of the rigours of the courses
undertaken but also of any curricular, career or pastoral changes which may affect their young people.
The Tutorial Programme followed by the students is intended to address relevant personal, social and
academic issues in their formative years. Such areas are dealt with and discussed in a safe and trusting
environment and include: friendships and social interaction, attitudes to bullying, cyberbullying, internet
safety, study skills, careers, RSE, mental health, resilience and health education. The weekly tutorial
period is also an ideal time and forum for class and individual concerns to be raised. The Tutor plays
the key role in helping the students to absorb the ethos of Aquinas where high standards of
behaviour, honesty and application are encouraged and respected.
9 help new students adapt with ease...
The curriculum on offer in Aquinas Diocesan Grammar School comprises
all the learning experiences within the school and includes, not only knowledge
and skills, but the development of attitudes, beliefs and values whichcome from
the positive relationships within the school community.
Our curriculum is pupil-centred, striving for academic excellence in GCSE, AS and A-Level public
examinations within a balanced and diverse programme, while at the same time enabling each pupil to
realise his/her full potential by developing all their interests and talents.
Key Stage 3
In Years 8, 9 and 10 pupils study the following subjects in line with the Northern Ireland curriculum:
Science,Technology and Design
Languages - Two languages from the choice of French, Spanish or Irish
History, Geography, Home Economics
Physical Education,Art and Design, Music
Religious Education
Personal and Social Education, Citizenship and Employability
Careers Awareness and Drama
Key Stage 4
For GCSE all pupils study the core subjects of:
Religious Studies
A choice of Language
Optional Choices
Further Mathematics, Art & Design, Biology, Business Studies, Chemistry, Design & Technology,
Drama, French, Geography, History, Home Economics, ICT, Moving Image Arts,
Learning for Life and Work, Music, PE, Physics, Science (Double Award), Spanish.
Astronomy GCSE is offered after school as an extracurricular subject
Curriculum Key Stage 3 and 4
...enabling each student
to realise their full potential...
...ensuring the the needs and
aspirations of every pupil...
Curriculum AS and A2 (A Level)
AS and A2 (A Level)
The following subjects are offered at AS and A2 level::
Art & Design, Biology, Business Studies, Chemistry, Digital Technology, Design and Technology, English Literature, French,
Further Mathematics, Geography, History, Irish, Mathematics, Moving Image Arts, Music, Nutrition and Food Science,
Physical Education, Physics, Politics, Psychology, Religious Studies, Sociology, Spanish, Theatre Studies.
Through our membership of the South Belfast Area Learning Community, and our commitment to the Entitlement Framework, we can also
offer our students: Travel and Tourism and Health and Social Care.
Students may take 3 or 4 of the above subjects at AS Level and may then proceed to A2 with 3 or 4 subjects.
All students have classes in Religious Studies, Careers Education Information Advice and Guidance (CEIAG) as well as Personal and Social
Education. Students participate in an enrichment programme which includes: Yoga, Chain of Life, Spin Class, Core Fitness and Survival
Cooking. Sixth Formers are also encouraged to engage in the Community Link Programme which involves links with local schools, care
homes and charities. Other opportunities include participation in Young Enterprise, The Bar Mock Trial, and the Sentinus Project.
Preparation for Higher Education and Employment
The transition from school to university life is an important one. For that reason we support
our students and families with a special University and College Admissions Service (UCAS)
evening where university admissions officers are in attendance to give guidance through the
application process. Even at subject department level, our students avail of Aquinas -
University links by attending some lectures or inviting lecturers into the classroom.
The CEIAG Department helps organise one week of work experience for Year 13 students
in February. This is another important aspect of Sixth Form life because it enables each
student to gain a first-hand insight into the world of work. In addition to this, Sixth Form
pupils receive regular Labour Market information updates throughout their time in Aquinas.
Further CEIAG is given in Year 14, where students are offered the opportunity to experience trial interviews and receive feedback from
professionals in their chosen areas of interest. This too gives good preparation towards Higher Education and Employment.
Generally, all Year 13 and Year 14 students receive CEIAG with the aim of helping them identify their own skills, attitudes and aptitudes
which they will need in university and later employment. Our students are guided carefully through the process involved in applying to
UCAS and the Central Applications Office, Ireland (CAO) for university admission. The school acts as a centre for university aptitude tests.
Finally, students will receive advice and help should they wish to take a gap year, enter employment or pursue a vocational route in Further
Independent Learning
Our Sixth Form pupils are given many opportunities to learn outside the classroom through fieldtrips, lectures, exchange visits and trips to theatres and
art galleries. They receive opportunities to lead activities through their role as prefects and mentors for younger pupils leading, for example, the Student
Council where pupil representatives from each Form Class express their views.
In essence, Aquinas tries to give the Sixth Form some autonomy as young adults having access to privileges such as coffee facilities, designated study areas,
ICT facilities and the library. Mentoring is provided, if needed, to support pupils as they establish themselves as independent learners.
Overall, in Aquinas Diocesan Grammar School we aim to ensure that the needs and aspirations of every pupil in the Sixth Form are met through
well-planned and managed learning with a strong pastoral system in which CEIAG is firmly embedded.
Snapshot of University Applications
for One AcademicYear
QUB 28
England 25
Gap Year 18
Scotland 13
Ulster University 10
St Mary’s University College 3
Deloitte BrightStart 2
We are confident there is something for everyone to join and enjoy.
We aim to provide ongoing opportunities for our students to maximise their
varied talents and gifts, be they cultural, intellectual or physical.
There are many sports for our students to participate in. We recognise that continued achievement
and progress in physical performance enhances the student’s self image and gives a clear understanding
of the importance of regular exercise in everyday life. In addition, Sixth Formers, are offered an
extensive range of Community Link and Enrichment activities including: sport; mentoring students from
Glenveagh Special School; local Primary Schools; John Paul II Award and Duke of Edinburgh’s Award.
The musical experiences offered to our students are many and varied. Tuition in a wide range of
musical instruments is offered and support provided by peripatetic music tutors. We have several
accomplished choral ensembles and instrumental groups which currently include: orchestra, guitar
ensemble, jazz band, junior recorder group, brass and a traditional group.
In the Creative & Expressive arena, our annual Shakespeare Festival continues to be a great success.
Aquinas continues to go from strength to strength in its own productions of dramatic and musical
performances. These draw widely on the talent and dedication of students from all year groups and
provide exciting entertainment and fond memories for all involved. Students have enjoyed working
alongside the Art and Design teachers in creating scenery and props for the musical and theatrical
productions. Our most recent production of Oliver! was staged at Halloween 2018 and was a rousing
As a school we are in no doubt that our extra curricular programme develops strong relationships
between students and teachers, the wider community and other schools. It contributes in a major way
to developing pupils and students who are self-confident and articulate. They understand the
importance of team work and are sensitive to the needs of others. In all of this, they are striving to
realise their full potential.
...maximising talents and gifts...
We have high expectations for our
students and we firmly believe in the establishment
of a secure educational partnership between the school,
parents and the wider community.
We want our students to become effective citizens of the 21st century.
We provide many opportunities for them to learn about the world beyond school. The
following are some of the opportunities available.
Links with schools in Belfast, France, Spain, South of Ireland, China and USA.
Visits to our partner schools in Barcelona and Lille.
Pope John Paul II Award
Bar Mock Trial
CEAIG and Work experience schemes
Work shadowing
Community link programmes
Environmental awareness projects
Young Enterprise
Video conference links
Third World awareness and fund-raising groups
Faith in Action
Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme
The Ulster Project
Lego league
Schools Grand Prix
Soroptimist Public Speaking
Belfast Speech and Drama festival
Participation in competions which range from Young Innovators
to sporting tournaments and art competitions.
Lille visitation as part of the
French Exchange
Florida Exchange, Giant’s Causeway visit
Wish you were here...
At home and
around the world...
...and here...
...and here...
Duke of Edinburgh's
Award Expedition
Year 9 Fieldtrip to the Glens of Antrim
Enjoyment in Education
Christmas Carols in Church of the Good Shepherd
Aquinas Diocesan Grammar School,
518 Ravenhill Road,
Belfast BT6 0BY
Tel: 02890 643939 Fax: 02890 693728
Principal : Mr. Barry Kelly
Chairman of the Board of Governors:
Mr. Terry McDaid
Aquinas Diocesan Grammar School,
518 Ravenhill Road,
Belfast BT6 0BY
Tel: 02890 643939 Fax: 02890 693728
Principal : Mr. Barry Kelly
Chairman of the Board of Governors:
Mr. Terry McDaid
Make Your Own