In line with the school aim of Personal Excellence all pupils will be encouraged to achieve their full potential.
Pupils will follow a common curriculum in Key Stage 3 as laid down in the guidelines for all Northern Ireland schools.
Those requiring learning support will be taught as a separate group in core subjects during Years 8-10.
In Year 10 pupils will make subject choices for Key Stage 4, with guidance from Parents, Careers Staff, Year Heads and Class Teachers.
During Key Stage 4 pupils will study English, Maths and Science and a choice of subjects which cover the prescribed Areas of Study. Some pupils who would benefit from a more vocational programme may have the opportunity to do Occupational Studies with additional enrichment activities.
At the end of Key Stage 4 all pupils will be assessed by GCSE examinations. A small number of pupils may also achieve Entry Level qualifications.
A significant number return to sixth form each year (currently 75 students). These young people have the opportunity to study at GCE AS/A2 level in a variety of Applied and Vocational areas. The range of subjects offered has been further enhanced by the formation of the Carrickfergus Learning Community, involving collaboration between Downshire, Carrickfergus College, Carrickfergus Grammar and Ulidia Integrated College. This venture places the schools in Carrickfergus at the forefront of changes in education in Northern Ireland.
In addition all Sixth Form students take enrichment studies which are relevant to their courses and career aspirations. These currently include Young Enterprise, Primary School Enterprise Programme, First Aid, Counselling, Community Outreach, and Spanish.
A positive work ethic is expected and students are encouraged to contribute to the wider life of the school.