Lurgan College in Focus: a school proud of its rich past

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“delivering a culture of academic excellence, underpinned by strong pastoral care and support for every pupil”

This year Lurgan College celebrates 140 years of providing high quality education to the young people of Lurgan. In that time the school has evolved from a private school of around just 40 boys in 1873 to a thriving non-denominational controlled grammar school of 456 pupils.

The school became co-educational in 1925 but the late 1960s saw that the most fundamental change in the school’s development. The governors of the College rejected academic selection at the tender age of 10 or 11 and instead opted for a new, progressive type of grammar school which would form part of a system with delayed academic selection until age 14. The new system became known as The Dickson Plan which has served the young people extremely well for over 40 years. All official reports on the system have consistently referred to its popularity with parents and pupils.

One of the school’s most distinguished former pupils is Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell (1948-1956), an astrophysicist, who, as a post graduate student, discovered the first radio pulsars with her thesis advisor, Antony Hewish, for which he received the Nobel Prize.

Another former pupil of note is Albert Lewis, father of the celebrated author, C. S. Lewis, who attended the school in the late 1870s. The Headmaster at the time was W. T. Kirkpatrick, who privately tutored the young C.S. Lewis for his Oxford entrance examinations, and he became the inspiration for the character Professor Digory Kirke who was created by C.S. Lewis for the Narnia books a quarter of a century later.

There are countless other examples of notable former pupils who have made a tremendous contribution locally, nationally and internationally. This is the essence of what the school ‘exports’ and it is a commodity of which everyone connected with the school is very proud.

The school’s past does not in any way inhibit progress. In fact, it inspires us all to build on our illustrious past, providing us with a firm grounding for who we are as a school and, more importantly, who we want to be in the future.