‘I’m giving up my job, not Ballyclare High School’

Mr David Knox.
Mr David Knox.
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The principal of Ballyclare High, Mr David Knox, is set to retire later this summer after 15 years in charge at the Rashee Road school.

The 62-year-old will be succeeded in the role by his colleague, Dr Michelle Rainey.

I’ve very much enjoyed my time here. It’s a great school and a great school to lead.

David Knox

Mr Knox, who has been a teacher for four decades, studied at the University of Ulster and later Stranmillis College before starting his teaching career at Cambridge House Boys’ Grammar School in Ballymena in 1974.

He took over from Mr Robert Fitzpatrick as principal of Ballyclare High in 2000.

“I’ve very much enjoyed my time here. It’s a great school and a great school to lead. We have great traditions in this school,” he told the Times.

Reflecting on his 15 years as headmaster, Mr Knox said the challenges had been “many and varied.”

“The changes brought upon us by the Department of Education; in more recent years the declining financial situation; shrinking budgets.

“It all has to be managed and fortunately we have been able to manage it and we have a balanced budget at the moment.

“We have 1,220 pupils this year and we always have more pupils wanting to come in to Year 8 than we have places for and more people wanting to come in to sixth form than we have places for, so that’s a very happy position to be in.”

Among the many highlights during his tenure, Mr Knox looks back fondly on several individual and team sporting successes, including outstanding performances from the school’s hockey and rugby teams in their respective Schools’ Cup competitions.

He’s also proud of the school’s excellent performances in terms of GCSE and A Level examination results, being named among the top performing grammar schools in Northern Ireland.

“But it’s not all about academic excellence and we all get as much pleasure from seeing a pupil who’s not that gifted academically doing much better than they might have expected to do,” he added.

Mr Knox thanked the school’s governors and staff for their dedication, hard work and support over the years.

“The governors have been very supportive during the years that I have been here. They take a very close interest in the school and they give the school 100 per cent and carry out their duties very cheerfully,” he continued.

“We have a terrific staff here at Ballyclare High. They work as a team and do almost everything that’s asked of them and quite often do more.”

While he has no immediate plans for his retirement other than taking a holiday in Italy and helping his wife, Patricia, look after their three grandchildren, Mr Knox hasn’t ruled out taking on some sort of new role in the education or voluntary sectors.

He admits that he will miss everyday life at Ballyclare High, but hopes to continue his association with the school in the years to come.

Quoting from a letter written by a retired colleague, Mr Knox concluded: “I’m giving up my job, I’m not giving up Ballyclare High School.”