National award for inspirational Belfast headteacher

Maire Thompson of Malone College, Belfast who won the award for 'Headteacher of the year in a Secondary School' at a ceremony in London
Maire Thompson of Malone College, Belfast who won the award for 'Headteacher of the year in a Secondary School' at a ceremony in London

A Belfast headteacher has earned UK-wide recognition for her work with pupils facing teenage difficulties such as pregnancy and issues around sexuality.

Maire Thompson of Malone College was presented with her ‘Gold Plato’ by Strictly Come Dancing judge Shirley Ballas at a glittering ceremony in London on Sunday.

The hard-working head was nominated for the prestigious accolade by pupils, parents and colleagues from her school.

Since taking up the post at Malone College in 2013, she has been credited with instilling a renewed sense of optimism and enthusiasm in both staff and pupils alike – receiving particular praise for operating an open-door policy which allows pupils to discuss the many challenges they face beyond schoolwork.

Ms Thompson also established the Rainbow Project to help provide support for gay pupils.

As well as Ms Thompson’s ‘Headteacher of the Year in a Secondary School,’ the 10 other gold award category winners included Teaching Assistant of the Year, Lifetime Achievement Award, and Outstanding Use of Technology in Education.

Hosted by BBC presenter Naga Munchetty, alongside broadcaster Sean Fletcher, the awards ceremony will be broadcast on BBC2 at 6pm on Sunday, October 29, in the show ‘Britain’s Classroom Heroes’.

The Pearson Teaching Awards – founded in 1998 by Lord Puttnam – recognise “the life-changing impact of an inspirational teacher on the lives of the young people they teach”.

Rod Bristow, president of Pearson UK, said: “Great teaching improves the life chances of our children. It’s an incredibly tough, pressured and wearing job.

“Teachers deserve all the support we can give them, now more than ever. That’s why these Pearson Teaching Awards are important, and that’s why I’m delighted once again to lend our support to giving teaching the recognition it deserves.”

Ahead of next year’s awards, parents and students can recognise and thank the teachers who are making a difference by visiting www.teachingawards.com/thank-a-teacher/