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‘Best Principal’ honour for Newtownabbey head teacher at NI Education Awards

Glengormley High School’s head teacher has been named the ‘Best Principal in Northern Ireland’ at the Northern Ireland Education Awards 2022.

Ricky Massey, who took up the post of principal at the Ballyclare Road school on April 9 2018, received the honour at the Titanic Belfast, exactly four years later.

Speaking to the Newtownabbey Times, Mr Massy, who came to teaching in 2004, said: “I am very proud of this recognition. Having failed my transfer test at the age of 11 and attending my local high school (Newtownbreda High), I received a fantastic education.

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“A key thing that I have learned is that one of your greatest assets in life is to have the willingness to work very hard and be committed to what you think is the right thing - in time, it will be worth it.”

Ricky Massey.

Praising his teaching colleagues and support staff, he added: “Despite two difficult years of a pandemic, our Year 8 enrolment increased by 167 per cent - meaning that we’ve been oversubscribed for the last two years. The number of pupils achieving five or more GCSEs at grades A*-C (including English and Maths) actually doubled between 2017 and 2019 (results based on exams prior to the pandemic).

“We’ve been runner up in ISBL UK School of The Year, our senior teacher who coordinates our special needs provision won the prestigious Pearson Silver Award for Excellence in Special Education and we’ve now just been granted approval to become an integrated school for September 2022.

“None of this is down to one person. It is very much a team effort and without any doubt, I have the most amazing team around me.”

Mr Massey paid tribute to all the shortlisted principals, stating: “The other finalists are amazing leaders and getting to the grand final is in itself a fantastic accolade.

“I know that each of the finalists have the same heart for our pupils, staff and communities. I would suggest that the voting panel had a real job on their hands choosing just one of us. I hope to continue growing and learning from each of my principal colleagues for many years to come.”

The Newtownabbey-based school was also shortlisted for the Best Post Primary School Award, finishing as a runner-up in the category.

Thanking everyone who has supported the Glengormley High community, Mr Massey continued: “I am so appreciative of the support that our parents have shown to GHS in these last four years. We value their honest feedback and we seek to always give the best that we can. In their feedback, our parents are always honest and gracious.

“I read literally hundreds of messages of support for these Education Awards and it is clear that our parents value the direction we have moved in. I have to be honest, the generosity in spirit and the words used by our parents was genuinely very touching and filled me with a real sense of contentment that I am in the right place and serving an amazing community.

“We receive amazing support from our local churches and they have been a real blessing for these last four years. Generous with their time and support in every practical way.

“Finally - my own wife and three kids put up with a lot from me. I’m in school very early most days and usually very late home and this has been a commitment for all five of us.”

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