House Competition

The aims of the House system are:

  • To increase the sense of identity and belonging in what is for virtually all pupils a much larger school than their primary schools.
  • To provide a vertical age-grouping smaller than the whole school, where pupils in Years 8-14 can mix and where older pupils lead activities and act as role models for the younger pupils.
  • To promote pupil participation in inter-House competitions and a healthy, friendly rivalry when competing for the various House trophies.
  • To encourage high standards of work, play and behaviour.

The House System therefore complements the pastoral work of the Heads of Year and Form Tutors and contributes to the pupils’ sense of belonging to the school community. There are four Houses and pupils from each year group work together in their House to take part in the various competitions. There is a House Assembly every Wednesday led by a teacher, who is Head of House, and pupil officials drawn from the Sixth Form.

The four Houses are:


John George Beresford was one of two brothers who each became Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland. In 1850, the Archbishop gave RSD a substantial sum of money which was used to build the Cloisters area, a gymnasium and two classrooms.

This gym is now the Marshall Library. In memory of Beresford’s generosity, the “blue” house is named after him.


The house is named after John Bullingbrook, who was the first RSD Headmaster. By 1614, King James was angry that his royal charter to establish a “free school” for Co. Tyrone, granted in 1608, had not yet been acted upon. He demanded that the Archbishop of Armagh take immediate action and a Headmaster, John Bullingbrook, was appointed in May 1614. The school was then on the shores of Lough Neagh at the fortified village of Mountjoy. The area is still called “College Lands” although it is just fields now. Later, the Royal School moved to Dungannon and in 1641 this new school was attacked and destroyed by Irish rebels. Bullingbrook and his son were forced to flee and sought refuge in the great forest of Glenconkeyne on the western shores of Lough Neagh. They both died of hunger and exposure. In 400 years there have only been 21 Headmasters of RSD.


400 years ago Ulster was the most Gaelic part of Ireland and resolutely defied English attempts to extend control over the Province. Hugh O’Neill had his headquarters in Dungannon and led the Ulster Gaelic resistance, fighting off a series of English armies. A new English commander, Lord Mountjoy, fought a ruthless and determined campaign against O’Neill until the great Irish chieftain surrendered in 1603. In the years following, English and Scottish planters made Ulster their home and RSD was registered as one of the schools for the planters’ children. Without Mountjoy there would have been no Ulster plantation and no Royal School, thus his name is commemorated in one of RSD’s houses.


General Sir John Nicholson was a pupil at RSD in the 19th Century. He went on to achieve fame as a soldier, dying a hero’s death during the Siege of Delhi in the Indian Mutiny of 1857. Nicholson was most famous in the Northwest Frontier of India. He was amazingly brave, administered strict justice and had an awesome appearance. In India he was regarded by some as being virtually a God and he was commemorated with a statue at the Delhi Gate. Professor R. L. Marshall wrote a poem in a school magazine of the 1930s in which he described a dream of the Nicholson Statue standing not in Delhi but in front of RSD. This came to pass some years later, when the statue of Nicholson was removed from Delhi after Indian independence and brought to Dungannon. It was erected in front of the school in 1960 and formally unveiled in 1967 by Lord Mountbatten, the last Viceroy of India. Nicholson House was the last of the four RSD houses to be founded.

The House competitions include:

  • Rugby – junior and senior
  • Hockey – junior and senior
  • Badminton
  • Tennis
  • Cricket
  • Debating
  • House Studies Cup
  • Sports Day athletics

House Music Competition 2024

On Wednesday 10th April, RSD had their first House Music Competition. Each house had to prepare 4 performances, produce a programme and then present their programme to the judges

Anyone Say Pizza?

RSD is delighted to see the return of the ‘Read for Pizza’ challenge. Since the summer, Junior school pupils have been living countless adventures, solving thrilling mysteries and learning about historic and futuristic places, people and cultures – all through the joy of reading! Once a book was read, a book review was written and then handed in to our librarian, Mrs Ferguson. Each book review gained points for one of the four Houses. Extra points were given for particularly challenging books and Mrs Ferguson was also on the lookout for very well written reviews which demonstrated excellent detail and critique.

Initially, the competition was very close and any House could have gained the prestigious award but Beresford Charlemont surged ahead in the final days and clinched the coveted prize – a free pizza lunch! Bullingbrook /Tyrone came in second, closely followed by Nicholson/ Dungannon, leaving Mountjoy / Ranfurly in last position.

Individual prizes for the best written reviews were given to: Julia Meeke (B/C), Tsventen Bogcrevski (B/T), Riley Burrows (N/D) and Mia Ruddy (M/R).

Well done to B/C and to every pupil who took up the challenge!

House Gingerbread Competition

Well done to all who took part in the Gingerbread House Competition! The standard was exceptionally high and it was evident that a lot of time and effort had been dedicated to the competition. 

Special congratulations to our senior and junior winners:

Senior overall winner: Sophie Meyer Year 13 BC
Senior runner up: Joanna Ashfield Year 13 ND
Junior overall winner: James Watson Year 8 BT
Junior runner up: Jessica Birnie, Sarah Needham, Isabella Kinkead ND

Year 8 House Activity Day

RSD were delighted to welcome back Salt Factory Sports and Play It By Ear to host the annual Year 8 House Activity Day. Over the...

House Photography Competition!

In the second year of our House Photography Competition, students were asked to show us what ‘choices & challenges’ means to them, in a single photo and caption.

House Badminton Champions!

Congratulations to our House Badminton Doubles Champions, Samuel Chan & Kinson Yu.

Gingerbread Inter-House Competition

Congratulations to all those who took part in the inter-house gingerbread house competition at the end of last term

Y8 House Activity Day 2022

Year 8 enjoyed a fun-filled House Activity Day on 23rd September, where they were able to take part in...

Sports Day 2022

On Wednesday, we held our annual Sports Day, with students from Years 8-11 competing in a range of track and field events. We were very fortunate with the weather, meaning that our athletes and spectators were able to enjoy the activities and support their House.

House Debating Competition 2022

On Friday 6th April, the House Debating competition took place. The motion was “This house believes that Ireland should be reunited”

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