The staff and pupils of Glengormley High School are reeling with excitement with the recent news that the school has been short listed as one of the final four schools for UK School of the Year Award.
This award recognises outstanding practice within schools throughout the whole of the United Kingdom.
Principal Ricky Massey reflects on the exciting journey of Glengormley High School since he started as the school leader in April 2018.
Mr Massey said: “When I arrived at Glengormley High School, we decided to start again with every aspect of the school. We changed the curriculum, how we managed pastoral care, how we managed attendance, how we managed behaviour and prioritised the need for high quality classroom experiences.
“Every aspect of the school was changed, including the start and finish time - the only similarity to the old school was the length of break time. This has paid off considerably because only two years ago, there were concerns raised about school performance and safeguarding.
“Now, our results are not only the highest in the history of the school, but they are above the Northern Ireland average, our enrolment is taking a meteoric rise and our attendance is above the Northern Ireland average.”
Despite the challenge to schools through the Northern Ireland teaching unions ‘action short of strike action’, the culture in Glengormley High School has significantly changed. Staff are taking on more training opportunities with more than a quarter of teachers now taking leadership development roles above and beyond their current roles.
Principal Massey highlights that “staff are hungry for Glengormley High School to be regarded as one of the very best non-selective post primary schools in Northern Ireland. In terms of performance in exams, the percentage of our pupils who leave Glengormley High with five or more GCSEs (including both English and Maths) is our key statistic. This has almost doubled within two years.”
The Ballyclare Road school regularly hosts leaders from other schools who are keen to learn from their journey, both successes and mistakes and the staff take great satisfaction to know that other leaders are interested in hearing about the journey of Glengormley High School.
Importantly, staff from Glengormley High School have visited a range of schools to look at best practice across Northern Ireland, but also in Liverpool, Glasgow, London and most recently, Finland and Estonia.
The winner of UK School of the Year will be announced at a gala event at the NEC in Birmingham in November, and Principal Massey will be accompanied at the event by teachers, admin staff and special needs staff from Glengormley High School with great hope and excitement.
Principal Massey added: “We are already winners. To get short listed to the final four schools is already a win for us, we feel so proud already and our hard work and drive has earned us this title.”