Principal of Ballymena school retires

The principal of St Louis Grammar School in Ballymena has retired.

Sean Rafferty was guest of honour at an event at The Tullyglass House Hotel which was a celebration to mark the end of another academic year, the ‘moving-on’ of several permanent members of staff and the beginning of his own retirement.

Mr Rafferty began his teaching career at Cross & Passion College, Ballycastle, before becoming Head of the English Department at St Patrick’s College, Barnageeha. He returned to a position closer to home at St Mary’s College, Clady, where he took on the role of Vice-Principal.

Mr Rafferty’s first principalship was at St Paul’s, Kilrea position he became Principal of Holy Trinity College, Cookstown, then joining St Louis Grammar School as Principal in 2011.

Mr Rafferty pictured with incoming Principal, Mrs Jacqui O'Neill

During his time at St Louis, Mr Rafferty oversaw many achievements for the school, including ‘Outstanding’ inspection reports; outstanding GCSE and A- Level results that have seen the school at the top of national rankings and league tables; recognition of St Louis’ students and staff at the British Education Awards; and more recently, the school’s accreditation as a TEEP Ambassador School. TEEP (Teacher Effectiveness Enhancement Programme) is an innovative teaching and learning programme that has been championed by senior leadership at St Louis since 2018. St Louis are currently the only school in Northern Ireland to have all staff TEEP Level 1 trained.

As well as curricular achievements, Mr Rafferty supervised several large-scale construction projects for the school, including a state-of-the-art Sports Centre; renovation of the old convent building, Kintullagh House, into a Centre of Excellence for Creative and Expressive Arts, and most recently, the development of a new 4G pitch on-site.

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Mr Rafferty was presented with messages and well-wishes from staff and parents at the event and to mark his service to the school, the Board of Governors have commissioned a ‘Rafferty Cup’ which will be presented at Prize Day for ‘Excellence, Endeavour and Empowerment’ - a mantra that was added to the school motto ‘Ut Sint Unum’ (that they may be one) during Mr Rafferty’s time as Principal.

St Louis Grammar School Senior Leadership Team

Mr Rafferty remarked: “Your three words ‘Excellence Endeavour Empowerment’ really are being lived out within and beyond our school community.

“I have been so fortunate to have been part of this magnificent team these past 11 years. Certainly, I will miss the buzz and the adrenalin rush of school life as we prepare for the next big project or initiative, but I am also so proud of what St Louis has become in terms of our development and progression from a very good school to an excellent school!” Mr Rafferty has expressed his wishes for the school and new Principal, Mrs Jacqui O’Neill, as he leaves post to enjoy retirement with his wife, Moira.

“In future years, I hope to look at the continued success of St Louis from the comfort of a less hectic lifestyle knowing that I had some part to play in the St Louis Grammar Ballymena story,” he said.

The Board of Governors, staff, students and wider school community thank Mr Rafferty for his service to the school and wish him a long and happy retirement with his family.

Mr Rafferty, pictured with some of the school administrative team