Although Ballyclare High is a school with examination results of a consistently high standard, its outstanding characteristics are a cliquish atmosphere and a fit-in-or-get-out attitude. Of the subjects and opportunities available, few are tailored to the student, instead the teaching mantra endeavors to pigeonhole the individual into particular thinking styles while seeking to quash the liberated attitudes that enable unusual thinkers to flourish.
Its exam results are no more than a result of a rigid adhesion to the curriculum and rarely are risks encouraged.
Staff can be overly harsh, strict and critical, and although constructive critique is necessary in many roads to success, at such a young age the expectation to be consistently faultless can become pressurizing and disheartening.
Furthermore, Ballyclare High's philosophy in writing is far from its philosophy in practice. Students who lack confidence or rest on unsure footing are sidelined in favor of star academics, the sporting elite and those who sit in high regard among the local community. The reality is that many students at the school feel under-nurtured and lack the support given to the more celebrated among its ranks.
To summarize, my personal experience of Ballyclare High was overwhelmingly one of negativity. For me it was a place where I felt continually dispirited and undervalued.
As a result of my years there, learning became something that I did not strive in, but was driven to avoid. The method by which I was taught and the atmosphere in which I was legally obliged to spend each day became injurious rather than custodial.
I found the whole experience to be a thoroughly unconducive one, and only now, some years later, have I realized my potential.
Ballyclare High School is, funnily enough, in Ballyclare, Co. Antrim. It's a state grammar school (although school fees, technically voluntary are £20). They generally have good exam results (although my year is heading towards ending that tradition) and while they are a tad old fashioned in some respects (if you're from England, even girls having to wear skirts is old fashioned!!) but quite modern in others. I suppose to be fair they give the best of both worlds - not to mention it's affordable grammar school education. A number of pupils every year head off to Oxbridge too! It was a shame when their best teacher left at the end of the 99-00 year though.