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Preparatory Department

Welcome to the Methodist College Belfast Preparatory Department

The College is unique amongst grammar schools in Northern Ireland as within its Preparatory Department it has two distinct schools: Downey House and Fullerton House. The vast majority of our children begin school in P1 many having spent one or two years in our pre-school units or other nursery schools.

We are also pleased to welcome children who come to the school either later in P1 or into other classes. Some of these children are from schools in Belfast. These parents feel that the Prep Department is more suitable for their child. Many of our non-P1 entrants come from outside Belfast and very often from different parts of the world.

Our teachers are skilled in working with new children who are very often transferring from completely different educational systems. We will be pleased to discuss how your child will complete their transition into either Downey House or Fullerton House.

We will also discuss the system by which all children in Northern Ireland transfer to post-primary schools. This is particularly important if you are thinking of enrolling your child into our P5, P6 or P7 classes.

Both schools provide:

  • Co-educational learning
  • Excellent Standards
  • Specialist Teachers
  • Convenient Locations
  • Broad Curriculum
  • Effective Pastoral Care
  • After School Clubs
  • Pre-schools on both sites Downey House and Fullerton House cater for girls and boys aged three to eleven; after which most transfer successfully to the main school or other grammar schools in Northern Ireland.

    There is a strong feeling of community within the school, with a strong welcoming atmosphere providing a much more personal ambience in which our young people thrive.

Aims and Values


We believe that children have the right to learn in a safe and secure environment. They deserve quality education in small classes. We understand that learning is a very broad experience and so we use specialist teachers in physical education, music, drama and French. Classroom learning is supplemented by use of the outside environment in the school grounds, educational visits and residentials.


We believe that the ‘one size fits all’ approach is inappropriate for learning today. We understand that children develop cognitively, emotionally and physically at different speeds depending on a variety of factors. In our classroom practice we account for these differences by adopting arrange of teaching strategies and practices. We are pleased to welcome children from all religions and none as well as children from many different countries.


We believe that every child has the potential to achieve excellent results. For some this can be measured academically, for others it might be on the stage, in music or in sport. For others excellence is measured in terms of progress and development. Today this is referred to as ‘value added’.


The Preparatory Department’s main aim is the preparation of pupils for post primary school and life beyond. It is very satisfying to see so many of our former pupils transfer to the College where we follow their achievements with great interest. Many children also transfer to other grammar and non-grammar schools nearer to their homes and again we take delight in hearing of their accomplishments. It is a particular source of pride to the school that so many former pupils enrol their children in the Preparatory Department of Methodist College.

As part of the preparation for transfer at the end of Prep 7, the school has endeavoured to ensure that the children have a sound understanding of the foundations of effective literacy and a sound understanding in the principles of Mathematics.  Emphasis is placed on the provision of a wide range of reading experiences and the development of a flexible use of written and oral language to meet the various demands of modern living. 

We  implement the curriculum in a way to ensure that our high standards remain high by maintaining the best practices of the past with proven modern teaching strategies and techniques. Our Foundation and key Stage 1 classes (Preps 1 to 4) use Learning Through Play as a major constituent of their approach. Language and numeracy development is followed in a way that the children find fun and practical but which has a background in planning that is rigorously thought through and planned.

Key developments within the Revised Curriculum have included Thinking Skills & Personal Capabilities (TS & PC) and Personal Development & Mutual Understanding (PDMU). We encourage our children to think and reason for themselves, how to plan their learning, how to work in groups, as individuals, as a class and as part of a whole school community.

The curriculum is constantly reviewed to meet the changing needs of the children and the changing statutory requirements. The increased use of Information Communication Technology is also intended to provide a foundation for the more advanced work which the pupils will meet in the future. Included in the range of other subjects taught are French, Art, P.E., Design and Technology and Drama. The Department is very fortunate to have specialist teachers in music, PE, drama and French.

Specialist Teaching

These subjects are taught by dedicated specialists who help their pupils to develop a love of these subjects as well as reach a higher standard of attainment than is often possible with a non-specialist.

  • Music (P1-7)
  • PE (P1-7)
  • Games (P4-7)
  • Swimming (3-7)
  • Drama (P1-7)
  • French (P3-7)

    Individual Music Tuition

    Tuition in string, piano, brass and other wind instruments is available by private arrangement. The school has its own choir (P5-7), recorder group (P6-7) and orchestra (P4-7).

    PE & Games

    Our physical education and games programme is an extensive and integral part of school life. We offer a broad range of indoor activities such as gymnastics and dance coupled with sporting opportunities; a careful balance between performance and participation.

    All boys and girls will be encouraged to achieve excellence with most senior pupils having the opportunity to represent their school in one field or another.

    In weekly outdoor sessions younger children are encouraged to play with an extensive range of outdoor equipment. Pupils from P3 –P77 attend weekly swimming lessons throughout most of the year, with an inter-schools gala being an annual highlight.

    Along with the weekly PE class for each year group, led by our specialist PE teachers, there is also one major weekly games session. AT these, senior pupils take part in a planned series of lessons which introduce them to a range of basic skills in a variety of sports, while P1-P3 pupils participate in Games as part of the PE curriculum. Training sessions and fixtures for teams are generally held after school.

    Throughout the year the older pupils will experience some of the following sports, depending on their age and individual circumstances:

    Boys – football, rugby, hockey, cricket, athletics, tennis, cross-country

    Girls – hockey, netball, tennis, athletics, cross-country.

    High quality coaching is provided by our qualified PE specialists and other committed teachers who are interested in promoting the enjoyment of sport as well as the acquisition of basic skills.

    Our children have access to tremendous facilities at Pirrie Park where there are two gravel hockey pitches, 1 football pitch, 2 cricket pitches, 11 tennis courts, 6 netball courts, 1 basketball court and 6 rugby pitches while a large Sports Hall and swimming pool are provided at the main college site on the Malone Road.

    Our best resource is our specialist physical education staff who provide an extremely high quality PE & games programme for the children.


    Clubs & Activities

    The Prep Department places great emphasis on developing the whole child through participation in enjoyable activities.

    The after school programme of clubs and activities is aimed at fostering pupils’ confidence, expertise and breadth of interest, both as individuals and within a team or group. There is a wide selection of voluntary activities for pupils to choose from.

    Most school teams train after school and, depending on the sport, the club may be open to a particular age group, or children may be selected on the basis of their skill.

    After school activities include:

    Drama Club
    Recorder Group
    Learning to play an instrument
    Singing Club
    Scripture Union
    Cross Country
    Creative Club
    Green Club
    Tennis & Table Tennis*
    *extra cost is necessary as outside coaches are employed


    Pastoral Care


    Pastoral Care is of the utmost importance within both schools of the preparatory Department. The creation and maintenance of a happy, safe and secure learning environment for children and staff is vital for all parts of the school community to learn and function effectively.

    Each school has staff responsible for Child Protection (CP) and Pastoral Care (PC). The Pastoral Care teacher administers and monitors the anti-bullying and incident books. These are completed by members of staff who either witness or have issues reported to them by pupils, parents or other members of staff. The Preparatory Department wholeheartedly supports the Northern Ireland Anti-Bullying Federation anti-bullying policies and partcices (

    Circle time and other PDMU strategies are used by staff to promote positive behaviour, team-work and conflict resolution in classes. Assemblies are also used to back up these messages and also to address issues which may arise at a whole school level e.g. a serious accident to a pupil, a serious case of bullying or a bereavement of a member of the school community.

    Effective supervision is a key area for preventing child protection issues. This is frequently reviewed at meetings of staff at whole school, Key Stage and Senior Management Team levels.

    Pupil Support

    Whilst a high standard of attainment is expected of all children at both Downey and Fullerton House, it is recognised that from time to time some children may experience specific difficulties with their work. Provision is made to deal with these difficulties in small groups or individually with the employment of our own Learning Support Teacher for the Preparatory Departments.

    Please click here for a copy of the Preparatory Department's Safeguarding Policies booklet.


    Field Trips & Residentials

    Children are encouraged to explore the environment and through practical observation and by reference to resource materials to broaden their experience of the world around them.  This need to observe at first hand will mean class outings with the children leaving the school premises.  On these occasions their destinations may be museums, factories, theatres, history parks, folk parks or other places of educational interest. 
    Each year a more extensive trip is organised for the final year pupils which in the past has been either skiing or a visit to Holland. We recognise that education takes place both within and outside the classroom.

    Entry & Fees
    New pupils begin school each September. Entry into Prep 1 (starting school for the first time) is normally for those who reach the age of five years within the current school year (that is, before 1st July of the year they come to school). Applications should normally be made by September at the latest for entry in September the following year (in other words one year in advance). Application forms should be obtained from the School Secretary at either Downey House or Fullerton House.
    All forms should be accompanied by the appropriate registration fee. Entry for older pupils depends on a suitable vacancy being available, and on the pupil having reached the same academic standard as the year concerned.

    Details of the School Uniform and a list of official suppliers are available from the school. Please click here to download the Official Admission Policy


Fullerton House is located in the Methody Campus, adjacent to the Lisburn Road. Children attend Fullerton from the immediate locality of South Belfast and further afield from Lisburn and Hillsborough. Parents who work in the City or Royal Hospitals or Queen’s University, Belfast, find the proximity of Fullerton very useful on combining the school run with their journey to work.

Downey House is located in Pirrie Park, Methody’s playing fields in East Belfast near the Ravenhill Road. Children attend Downey from the immediately locality and further afield from Holywood, Bangor, North Down, Ards, Ballygowan and Saintfield. Downey House is particularly convenient to the main Belfast arterial routes of Ormeau, Ravenhill, Cregagh and Castlereagh Roads. 

Parental Support

The School and staff regard the support and contribution of parents as key elements in its success in educating their children in a happy atmosphere to be emotionally well adjusted and self-confident people. We value the home-school partnership by which the pupils are encouraged through an atmosphere of mutual respect to develop high levels of motivation, perseverance and self-discipline.

Parental Support is fundamental to children’s development and we have always valued the fact that learning takes place at home as well as in school.

We are fortunate that vibrant Parent Teacher Associations exist in both schools. The roles of the associations can be summarised in three parts:

1. Raising funds to support the teaching and learning of the children throughout the department;
2. Providing opportunities for children to take part in enjoyable activities with their families and with other children;
3. Providing opportunities for parents to socialise with other parents within the school community.

Parent Interviews

Great importance is attached to the need for parents to be involved in the education of their children. There is no doubt that children make faster progress if parents do take an active interest and support the work of the school. Parents are invited to discuss their children's progress with staff once a year. However parents may make an appointment at any time to see the class teacher if a concern arises. It is also vital that parents inform the school of any circumstances which may be affecting the child's performance in school.


Reports are sent out twice a year and, if it is thought desirable, weekly report cards may be used as a means of improving home links in some cases


It is expected that in the case of absence that parents will notify the school as soon as possible. Since each absence must involve a setback, however small, parents are asked to note that absence from School for purely social or holiday reasons is discouraged because it is detrimental to a pupil's emotional and academic education.

School Dinner

A healthy and well balanced two course dinner is available under the School Meals Scheme provided by Chartwells Catering at a chargewhich approximates to the cost of the food only. If parents wish, children may bring a packed lunch which they eat in their classrooms. No pupil is permitted to leave the school premises during the lunch hour unless parents make a prior arrangement.
Staff at Prep Department

    Head of Preparatory Department: Mr Alan Jennings



    Mr Colin Allen

    Deputy Head of Fullerton, Head of KS2, Designated Teacher for Child Protection, History & Maths Co-ordinator  

    Mrs Catherine Stewart

    P5 teacher  

    Mrs Emma Davey

    Learning Through Play & Literacy Co-ordinator

    Mrs Shirley Johnston

    Deputy Designated Teacher for Child Protection, PDMU & Pastoral Care and School Council Co-ordinator

    Mrs Gillian Morrison

    Literacy Co-ordinator, Road Safety

    Mrs Anne Shanks


    Mrs Ruth Watson

    Head of FS & KS1, Library Co-ordinator

    Ms Ruth McKinstry

    School Secretary

    Mrs Anne Creighton

    School Assistant

    Miss Meryl Boyd

    Supervisor in charge of Pre-school

    Mrs Elaine McCulla

    Pre-school Assistant


    Mrs Anne Cunningham

    Deputy Head of Downey, Head of FS & KS1. Maths Co-ordinator, Designated Teacher for Child Protection

    Mrs Claire Booth

    SENCO, Deputy Designated Teacher for Child Protection

    Mr Glyn Dando

    Head of KS2, Ski trip Co-ordinator

    Mrs Heather Glasgow

    Literacy Co-ordinator

    Mrs Erin Gregory

    P4 teacher

    Mrs Ruth Massey

    RE Co-ordinator

    Ms Fiona McBrien-Harrison


    Mrs Deborah Doherty

    PDMU & Pastoral Care, School Council Co-ordinator, ICT, Holland trip & Cycling Proficiency Scheme Co-ordinator 

    Mrs Gemma Kerr

    Teacher in charge of Pre-school

    Mrs Eileen Moorhead

    Pre-School Assistant

    Mrs Susan Hampton

    School Secretary

    Mrs Avril Hannah

    School Assistant


    Mrs Diane Allen

    Preforming Arts Co-ordinator

    Mrs Denise Christy


    Mrs Helen Collins

    Learning Support

    Mrs Deborah Gray

    PE & Games


     Prep Department Holidays

    Holiday List for 2019/20

  • Welcome to Downey House

    History of Downey House

    Facilities at Downey House
    Downey House accommodates 15 classrooms, a computer/music room, a Library, a Gym/Assembly Hall  and a Canteen/ Hall with Stage. The school is set into 40 acres of playing fields with access to facilities fortennis, netball, hockey, basketball, football, cricket and rugby.

    The Downey House uniform colours are royal blue and gold. Historically they have always been different from those of Methodist College. The badge is a dragon with the motto AD AUGUSTA. A list of official suppliers and other details are available from the school.

    Please click here for a copy of the 2019 Autumn Term Calendar

    Canteen Menu
    Canteen Menus - Downey House

    Parent Teacher Association
    The Parent Teacher Association has raised an immense amount of money over the years to provide valuable extra equipment to benefit their own and future generations of pupils. The PTA organise an excellent variety of events and welcome any help from any source! The committee is also happy to assist new parents with any queries.
    Downey House Pre-School
    Please contact the Head of Pre-School, Mrs Gemma Kerr at Downey House (9028 6666 DL)

    Downey House Afterschool Club
    Please contact the School Secretary, Mrs Susan Hampton at Downey House (9028 6660)

    Contact Details:

    The Head of the Preparatory Department
    Downey House School
    Pirrie Park
    Belfast BT6 0AG

    Telephone: 028 9028 6660

    Welcome to Fullerton House

    History of Fullerton House

    Please click here for a copy of the 2019 autumn term calendar


    This building accommodates fourteen classrooms which have been designed with regard to modern teaching techniques. Each room has the facility for using television and video material. A specialist room is set aside for the teaching of music. A comprehensive central library is stocked with reference material and a growing collection of suitable fiction. It also houses other resource material in the form of maps, charts and periodicalswhich may supply up to date information for project work.

    The Canteen

    Pupils at Fullerton who take school dinners eat their lunch in the main College canteen. The school and its designated caterers, Chartwells, take the issue of healthy eating very seriously.  Parents are invited to look at the attached Healthy Eating Policy which illustrates this point very clearly.  

    Healthy Eating Policy - Chartwells for Methodist College Belfast

    Visit the Compass Group website for more information - click here 

    Please view attached the Canteen menus, which run on a three week cycle, offering good value and a carefully balanced diet. 

    Canteen Menus - Fullerton House


     Parent Teacher Association
    The Parent Teacher Association provides a forum for parents to express views and to inform themselves more widely on modern trends in education. The association is also concerned to assist new parents with any problems which may arise and to organise an excellent variety of events to help raise funds for special items of school equipment. 

    Contact Details:

    The Head of the Preparatory Department
    Fullerton House School
    1 Malone Road
    Belfast BT9 6BY

    Telephone: 028 90 205217


    Downey House & Fullerton House Pupil Achievements

    Recently Fullerton House P2's went to Scotland on Stenaline for a day trip.

    Downey House P1 - P4 children enjoying lollies, the glorious sunshine and the fantastic grounds at Pirrie Park.


    Downey House P3 children enjoying a visit to the Ulster Transport Museum to see Tim Peake's Soyuz capsule.


    Downey House P1,P2 and P3 children doing the weekly Downey Mile!

    Pupil Tennis Success

    James McMillan (P5 Downey House) has a very promising future in tennis. James has been training with the Ulster Tennis Academy at Under 10 Level and is now training with Ireland Under 10 squad. Well Done!