Northern Ireland

East Belfast teenagers return to class over Easter

Maggie Andrews said they had received help from the West Belfast Partnership Board
Image caption Maggie Andrews said they had received help from the West Belfast Partnership Board

About 50 teenagers from east Belfast have opted to return to the classroom over the Easter holidays.

They are taking part in a week-long Easter school for pupils about to sit GCSEs at the Skainos centre.

Lessons in Maths and English are targeted at those who require a little extra support to achieve a GCSE pass.

It is modelled on a similar scheme in west Belfast which has been running for a decade and attracts around 250 pupils each year.

Maggie Andrews from the Eastside Partnership, which runs the school, said they had received help from the West Belfast Partnership Board.

"As a partnership we work across the city," she said.

Image caption Lessons in Maths and English are targeted at those who require a little extra support to achieve a GCSE pass

"Our colleagues in the west have done a significant amount around the Easter school in particular."

"They gave us lots of practical advice, like how to approach schools.

"The success of this is very much dependent on local schools who have the pupils every day persuading them that it's a good idea to get involved in this."

Image caption Wendy McCullough is one of a number of teachers who give up a week of their own break to work with the students

The Easter school aims to help pupils who are capable of getting a grade C - regarded as a pass - in Maths or English to get at least that mark.

Wendy McCullough is one of a number of teachers who give up a week of their own break to work.

"It's in Maths and English because they are the two subjects that everybody needs to pass before they can do anything," she said.

Image caption Ryan Catney said he was hoping to get help before he sits his English exams

"Our idea is to help pupils who are on the borderline and to help them gain a bit more confidence to get that extra few marks to get the pass they need."

The young people at the school all face sitting GCSE exams within the next few weeks.

Ryan Catney said he was hoping to get help before he sits his English exams.

"I need to speed up in my writing, it's very slow," he said.

Image caption Deborah Maginnis said being taught in small groups meant she could get more one-to-one help

"I'll be happy if I can learn different techniques."

Meanwhile, Deborah Maginnis said that being taught in small groups meant she could get more one-to-one help.

"If you're stuck on something the teachers help you and go through it with you," she said.

"They'll talk it through with you, and if you still don't get it they'll be patient with you."

But did Deborah find it hard coming to school while many of her friends were enjoying their break?

"It was," she said, "as I love my holidays and I love to spend time at home not doing much.

"So it was difficult to come in this morning, but it'll be worth it."

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