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Windmill Integrated Primary School, Dungannon
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Mrs Ferguson 30 Year Celebration


Windmill Integrated Primary School and Nursery Unit

September 2013 onwards


I was appointed Principal of Windmill Integrated Primary School and Nursery Unit in April 2013 and took up the position in September 2013. I was truly honoured to be appointed to the position and looked forward to working with the dedicated staff to provide the best possible educational programme for our pupils. I spent the first few weeks getting to know the building and bringing myself up to date on Windmill’s school improvement goals as well as hearing about what made Windmill such a unique and special place.

My first Assembly was about ‘New Shoes’, which explored our attitudes to change at the beginning of a new school year- (new class, new teacher, new pupil, new principal)

New shoes feel strange and stiff, uncomfortable and unbending, but new shoes soon become so comfy you don't even notice them. The new year can feel strange, uncomfortable, uncertain and unfriendly, but soon it's not new anymore, isn’t normal, and you stop thinking about it.

Windmill had just turned 25 when I joined the hard working team. I had the privilege to share in its 25th Anniversary celebration at Armagh City Hotel. Part of my speech delivered on the night stated, ‘Turning 25 is a major milestone for Windmill Integrated Primary School. Over the last quarter of a century Windmill Integrated Primary School has offered quality education and has prepared the children for living and working in a diverse society. Every day children from different communities not only of various religions but nationalities and ethnic origins come together under the same roof to learn from, with and about each other.’

Over the past 4 years the staff and myself have continued to work hard to continue the legacy of success established at Windmill Integrated Primary School and Nursery Unit by building strong relationships with parents, pupils, staff and community partners.

In January 2014, the school was massively oversubscribed for the September 2014 Primary 1 intake. After holding an open meeting with parents, the Board of Governors agreed to apply for a temporary variation in the school’s admission numbers. This was granted and a new modular classroom was obtained. Planning permission was sought, however, when the building contractor went to erect the modular classroom he was faced with a building control issue and a new site had to be found for the modular classroom. I remember spending Boxing Day 2014 measuring different areas within the school boundary to establish where the modular classroom could be placed so that a new planning application could be sent in to the council as soon as possible to keep the ‘ball rolling’. The children within Primary 4 were taught in the ICT suite until the much awaited on, modular classroom became operational in May 2015.

A number of minor improvement schemes have also taken place over the last number of years. Solar panels were placed on top of the kitchen roof, a boundary fence has been erected at the back of the school, separating the school premises from Dungannon United Youth and extra CCTV cameras installed. Planning permission has recently been granted for the building of a draught lobby at the front entrance to the school and the zoning of the school’s current heating system.

In January 2015 Windmill Integrated Primary School and Nursery Unit was inspected. The Primary School gained ‘Very Good’ and the Nursery achieved ‘Good’. To celebrate this wonderful achievement, I attended a function at Stormont in May 2015, on behalf of the whole school community.

Over the years our school has been involved in a number of different projects- The Keeping Safe Programme (NSPCC), Sustrans Active Travel Programme- gained the Bronze Award in June 2017, the Polli:Nation Project, ECO- Schools- gained the First Green Flag in June 2016, Tutoring in Schools Programme , the Dissolving Boundaries Project, the Key Stage 2/3 Literacy /Numeracy Project, Shared Education with Bush Primary School ,the PACT/TRUST ( I.E.F) Programme with Bush Primary School and the Extended Schools Programme with The Integrated College Dungannon, St. Patrick’s College Dungannon , Walker Memorial Primary School, Castlecaulfield and Dungannon Primary School.

Grants have also been obtained from a number of different agencies for e.g. Sport NI, Mid-Ulster Council and Lloyds Bank to provide even further activities and resources to meet the needs, interests and ambitions of the young people at our school.

Even though I am a nonteaching Principal, I have the pleasure of working alongside the Primary 3 class, the Pupil Council, the Eco-Council, Playground Friends and those children wishing to undertake the AQE/GL transfer tests.

Windmill Integrated Primary School will be celebrating its 30th Anniversary in the 2018/2019 academic year. I am going to spell out my admiration for it by using the letters of Windmill.

W for Welcoming. Windmill Integrated Primary School is committed to accepting pupils from whatever their background, race, colour, creed, religion or difficulty. They find a welcoming home here and they are taught to accept and respect diversity. We have a rich variety of countries of origin and first languages.

I for Inclusive. It is heartening to see all pupils accessing a broad and balanced curriculum, fully participating in learning activities at an age appropriate/ability level. Staff receive support and training not only from our school SENCO but from the Special Educational Needs Department within the Educational Authority as well as other external agencies. Windmill has also strong links with the Inclusion and Diversity Service and obtains support from it to help those pupils for whom English is an Additional Language.

N for Nurture. It is great to see how pupils eventually leave Windmill I.P.S. Throughout the years they are nurtured in self-esteem, life skills, interpersonal skills as well as in normal educational matters. Our pupils can go on to the next stage and take their place there. Right from Nursery through to Primary 7 the school exercises an excellent pastoral care policy that ensures that even the most challenging of pupils is seen to benefit.

D for Destiny. Throughout their time spent at Windmill, staff and pupils are given the opportunities to identify their needs, interests and talents and are supported in the hope of reaching their desired destiny.

M for Measuring its Success. Windmill Integrated Primary School and Nursery Unit is a success story as the school began with a small number of pupils in St. John’s Hall Dungannon, moved to the Bowling Pavilion whilst the mobiles were being placed on current site to the commissioning of a brand new ‘state of the art’ permanent building. It has grown in size over the years and to date has 8 classes and a full time Nursery. Many seek to have their children educated in our school each academic year.

I for Integrated. Integrated Education brings children and staff from Catholic and Protestant traditions, as well as those of other faiths or none, together under one roof. Windmill has been providing integrated education for nearly 30 years and is one of the first established integrated schools in Northern Ireland thanks to the vision of a husband and wife team ‘Mr Pearce and Mrs Jean Kelly.’ Through its admissions criteria, Windmill enrols approximately equal numbers of Catholic and Protestant children as well as children from other religious and cultural backgrounds. Windmill Integrated Primary School and Nursery Unit has a Christian ethos and Catholic children are offered Sacramental preparation at P4 and P7. At the same time, Protestant children can avail of the Delving Deeper programme to develop their own faith knowledge. Ministers from the different Protestant churches and the local priests come into school on a weekly basis to take Assemblies.

L for Learning Throughout their time at Windmill Integrated Primary School the children are provided with a broad and balanced Northern Ireland Curriculum which covers the Areas of learning, their Attitudes and Dispositions and Skills and Capabilities. Children learn in different ways for e.g. Kinesthetic learner, Auditory learner and the Visual learner. Staff employ a range of teaching strategies, balancing whole class, group and individual activities to engage their pupils in effective learning. Windmill offers a range of extra-curricular activities and these clubs are normally at full capacity. Staff also empower the children as individuals so that as they grow and mature, they’ll be able to affect positive change in the shared society we live in.

L for Languages. All of the children at Windmill from Primary 1 to Primary 7 learn French. Madame Daly comes in to take the French classes each week. Whenever our children transfer to secondary education feedback from receiving schools is that they have a headstart. The Mid Ulster Council offers an eight-week Irish programme for at least one class within Key Stage 2. Windmill also offers Mandarin Chinese as an after school’s programme.

Through a close and collegial partnership with everyone associated with Windmill we can make our school a better place for our children to learn and grow. It is my sincere desire to provide expanded opportunities for our pupils to acquire the skills to become productive citizens in a vastly changing society.

‘A journey together……………………… learning for life.’


Sandra Ferguson




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