Northern Ireland

Belfast principal Thompson wins headteacher of the year

Maire Thompson
Image caption Maire Thompson was said to have 'transformed' Malone College since she became principal in 2013

A Belfast school principal has been named headteacher of the year at the 2017 Pearson Teaching Awards.

Maire Thompson, principal of Malone Integrated College, was nominated for the award by pupils, parents and colleagues at her school.

The award was presented at a ceremony in London on Sunday night, hosted by the BBC presenter Naga Munchetty.

Eleven gold awards were presented to teachers after thousands of initial nominations from across the UK.

'Support for gay pupils'

The organisers said that Ms Thompson had transformed Malone College since she became principal in 2013.

"She operates an open-door policy, and pupils throughout the college commented on the headteacher's remarkable accessibility and knowledge of their lives - including knowledge of their families," they said.

"She brought in the Rainbow Project to help provide support for gay pupils, and has also been recognised for helping pregnant teenagers and any other pupil who had experienced difficulties beyond the usual challenges of teenage life."

Ms Thompson is also a regular contributor to discussions on education on BBC Northern Ireland.

Malone College, in south Belfast, is an integrated, non-selective post-primary school with more than 500 pupils.

The Pearson Awards were founded by Lord David Puttnam in 1998 in order to celebrate excellence in education.

They are open to teachers from England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Author Michael Morpurgo is president of the Teaching Awards Trust, which organises the awards.

The ceremony will be broadcast as Britain's Classroom Heroes on BBC2 at 18:00 GMT on Sunday 29 October 2017.