Records show that there has been a school for children of primary school age in Carnmoney going back over 200 years.
A stone that was preserved in Carnmoney Presbyterian Church has the inscription, ‘This house was built by subscription for a book club and school room, 12th November 1796’. This stone is now in the possession of our school and forms part of a display celebrating our long history. The original school was ‘managed’ by the local Presbyterian Church.
The school building was situated at the corner of what are now the Carnvue Road and Carnmoney Road, where the Presbyterian Church car park is now. The Ordnance Survey Memoirs of 1838/39 describe the school as ‘an excellent two storey house, containing a schoolroom each for the male and female pupils, each measuring 27 by 16 feet’.
The school was called Carnmoney No.2 National School (Carnmoney No.1 National School was connected with Carnmoney Parish Church). The head teacher in 1838 was Mr William Patterson and the Mistress was Mrs Mary Vint. The school was open each weekday as well as Saturdays. The school building was also used as Sunday School and a book club.
In 1849, Carnmoney No.2 National School moved the short distance to the Ballyduff Road, into the building that had belonged to the Covenanting Church in Carnmoney, and which now belonged to the local Presbyterian Church. Until recently, this building housed the Youth Club belonging to Carnmoney Presbyterian Church. The Presbyterian Church controlled the school in 1849 and they provided the chairs and equipment for the children. The old school building they had been using since 1796 was converted into a dispensary and caretaker’s residence. In the 1920’s the name of the school changed from Carnmoney No.2 National School to Carnmoney Public Elementary School.
The primary school children in Carnmoney continued to meet in the Ballyduff Road site right up until 1964 when the present building was opened. In 1964, the school buildings on the Ballyduff Road were handed back to the church, where they were used as a Youth Centre and a house for the church caretaker. The present building opened its doors as an ultra-modern educational establishment on 10th February 1964.
Carnmoney’s New School
(Extract taken from East Antrim Times, 6th February 1964)
The 90 pupils of Carnmoney Primary School on the Ballyduff Road will move into their new school on the Carnmoney Road on Monday next.
Joining them will be a large number of children at present attending Glengormley Primary School and the total on the roll will be approximately 200.
The new building contains 9 classrooms. The 4 ground floor rooms for the exclusive use of the infant classes are furnished with the most modern equipment, as are the 5 upper classrooms.
Each room has its own colour scheme and the general décor is restful and pleasant. At the rear of a spacious dining hall is a kitchen containing ultra-modern utensils. The red tiled ground floor corridors and foyer have ample cloak recesses and self-contained toilet suites.
The building which is centrally heated is flanked with 2 commodious covered play sheds and playgrounds. The school occupies a commanding site and with its north south aspect gives a marvelous view of Carnmoney and Cave Hills.
Provision has been made in the planning to provide extra accommodation and this will soon prove necessary in view of the extensive housing programme being carried out in the vicinity.
Mr. A C McClune, who has been Principal of Carnmoney Primary School for the past 27 years, will have his present staff augmented by 3 teachers from Glengormley.
The School Magazine
The first school magazine was published in the school year 1966-67, a series that continued until 1994-95. A special edition was produced in 2004, marking the 40th anniversary of the opening of the present school building on the Carnmoney Road.
The 1967-68 edition told readers of ‘the completion and occupation of the 8 new classrooms and Assembly Hall’, along with the opening of 2 new entrances into the school. Before this, all the children came through what is now the entrance into the reception area, which caused some congestion problems. In that year there were 500 pupils and 15 teachers, and the population of Newtownabbey was around 48,000. In 2011 this stands at over 80,000.
At this time, a Local Management Committee ran the school, similar to the Board of Governors today. Its Chairman, Rev John C Ferguson (Minister of Carnmoney Presbyterian Church) paid tribute to the work in the school and also commented on the ‘purse tightening days of Government Departments’. Even then, as now, budgets and finance within schools were a controversial issue.
February 10th 1969 saw the fifth anniversary of the school opening. At this time there were 560 pupils and a long waiting list of others keen to join the school. Bound by rules and criteria laid down by the authorities, the Principal had to plead with parents to be patient as there were restrictions as to the numbers who could join. During this session, the Assembly Hall was equipped with new gymnasium equipment and the school football pitch was finally completed. 1969 saw the formation of a Friday Youth Club for the senior pupils, held on a Friday night.
By the 1969-70 term, Mr. Brown had become Principal following the retirement of Mr. McClune. There were 634 pupils and 20 teachers as numbers increased due to new housing developments in the area. Mr. Rice took over the running of the football team, a role he was to continue for over 30 years. The year also saw the formation of two very popular activities in the school. Mrs. Tombe introduced the ‘Tufty Club’ for children in Primary 1, a club that taught about road safety and kerb drill, while Mr. Little launched the cycling proficiency club for the older pupils.
1970-71 saw the publication of the fifth edition of the magazine. There were now over 700 pupils and 22 staff, again with a long waiting list to join. At that time there were few primary schools in the area, so Carnmoney was in great demand. Alongside the classrooms there were 4 mobile classrooms.
In a sign of the times, in the early 1970s, Mr. Brown the Principal asked readers to ‘think about children and teachers who live and work in high-tension areas throughout our Province. In many instances each hour is fraught with danger; disruption has become commonplace and tension a constant companion’. As families moved out of Belfast to the Newtownabbey area, the school roll was just under 800 with 24 staff. Numbers continued to increase in the early 1970s with 870 on the rolls in 1972. Numbers in the school peaked in the mid 1970s with just less than 1000 on the roll. In 1975, the P.T.A. celebrated its 10th anniversary and Mr. Brown paid tribute to their efforts for the school.
Carnmoney Primary School had by now reached saturation point. In September 1975, 140 of the pupils left and enrolled in the newly built Ballyhenry Primary School.
One of the big events of 1977 was the purchase of a new mini-bus for the school. That year, the school magazine had as its theme the Queens Silver Jubilee and as the school continued to flourish, the pupils had the choice of 17 after school activities.
1977-78 saw the abolition of the selection procedure and a new form of transfer procedure from Primary to Secondary education was introduced for a trial period of 2 years. Then, as now, there was great discussion and controversy about the system and Mr. Brown found himself attending numerous meetings to explain the new system to parents. In January 1977 about 100 Carnmoney pupils along with 3 teachers transferred to the newly opened Ashgrove Primary School. Numbers were now back down to around 740. Towards the end of the 1970s, the transfer procedure was altered and replaced by the revised transfer procedure, a move that was clearly unpopular with the staff at Carnmoney, according to editorials in the school magazine. In 1979 there were 650 pupils.
In the 1981-82 edition, Miss Tuff commented ‘micro-chip, astronauts and computers are just a few of the words now common in children’s vocabulary’. The next few years were quite uneventful, but in 1984-85 the school took delivery of its first ‘micro-computer’ from the North Eastern Education and Library Board. In 1986 the school magazine was for the first time produced with the aid of a computer, the second one they now had.
1988-89 marked the 25th anniversary of the school building on the Carnmoney Road and a special magazine was produced for the occasion. A new mini-bus was purchased and a special thanksgiving Church service was held on 10th February in Carnmoney Presbyterian Church.
In 1990-91 a new National Curriculum was launched, which introduced Key Stage 1 for Primaries 1-4 and Key Stage 2 for senior pupils. There was much controversy at this time after the Government introduced a ‘Local Management of Schools’ policy. This placed the responsibility for the financial running of schools in the hands of the Principal and a Board of Governors. Schools including Carnmoney were wary of this move due to the inexperience of the Governors and the extra responsibilities involved.
1993-94 saw the publication of the last regular school magazine.
To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the school building, a special edition of the school magazine was produced in 2004, the first for some 10 years. The book contained contributions from every pupil and Pauline Magowan the Principal commented in the editorial ‘this booklet is a celebration of the life of our school over the last 40 years and will show you why we believe Carnmoney Primary School to be the best school in the world with the best pupils’. As well as this a special exhibition was held in the school showing photographs and memorabilia tracing the history of the school and the area since 1964. A service of thanksgiving was held in Carnmoney Presbyterian Church on 18th June 2004.