Double Derry success as Marie Lindsay and Michael Allen announced winners of prestigious accolades on The One Show

Two trailblazing Derry headteachers have been named as the most inspirational educators from among thousands of nominees on The One Show.

By Brendan McDaid
Saturday, 27th November 2021, 10:01 am

Marie Lindsay, former principal of St Mary’s College has won a Gold Award in the Pearson National Teaching Awards for The Award for Lifetime Achievement, while Lisneal College principal Michael Allen won The Award for Headteacher of the Year in a Secondary School.

The awards came as part of a week-long celebration of teaching which will end this Sunday at a prestigious ceremony celebrating all 102 Silver Winners of the Pearson National Teaching Awards.

At the ceremony, Marie and Michael will be honoured alongside their fellow Gold Winners across 15 categories as the best of the UK’s educators.

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Lisneal College principal Michael Allen and former St Mary's College principal Marie Lindsay.

Both educators have been praised in a statement accompannying the awards announcement: “Marie Lindsay has devoted her 35-year career as an educator to inspiring generations of young women in the city of Derry and beyond. Her leadership of St Mary’s College has had a life changing impact on her pupils, their families and the wider community, and the school is recognised as one of the highest performing all ability secondary schools in Northern Ireland.

“This outstanding journey is underpinned by the innovative ways that Marie engaged pupils, parents, business and educational communities and empowered staff in driving continuous improvement, embracing the Shared Education Programme aimed at overcoming religious and cultural divisions in Northern Ireland. In the most challenging of circumstances Marie has built an enormously strong and resilient school community.

“Michael Allen joined Lisneal College in 2015 as headteacher and his commitment, leadership and inspiration to all stakeholders has been nothing less than outstanding every day since. His powerful vision and strategic approach now means that Lisneal College is not just a name recognised locally but globally. Michael at all times puts the needs of his students first. He advocates on their behalf and is a wonderful role model with regard to his work ethic, strong value system, accountability and professionalism.

“Michael’s outstanding leadership has resulted in a dramatic increase in school enrolment and through gradual change and improvement; he has taken the College’s provision to another level.

The Pearson National Teaching Award winners have been honoured for their incredible work supporting learners across the country. Each award winner has repeatedly gone above and beyond their role to change the lives of their students and help them move towards a brighter future.”

The Pearson National Teaching Awards is an annual celebration of excellence in education, founded in 1998 by Lord Puttnam to recognise the life-changing impact an inspirational teacher can have on the lives of the young people they work with. The 2022 Pearson National Teaching Awards open for entry on Friday 26 November 2021.

Marie Lindsay said: “I’m so shocked yet so delighted. I owe everything to our St Mary’s College family of pupils, staff, parents, Governors and the wider community in Derry who helped and supported me throughout my career. I want to thank especially the current Principal Brendan McGinn, Vice Principals Katrina Kealey and Roisin Rice, and the many members of the extended St Mary’s family who nominated me and somehow persuaded the judges that I was worthy of this very special award. Sincerest thanks to them, to Pearson, and The One Show for my happy, humble heart.”

Sir Michael Morpurgo, celebrated author and former Children’s laureate, and President of the Teaching Awards Trust, said: “People of all ages will always remember that wonderful teacher who made such a difference in their lives. The teacher will never know how many lives they have changed, or the impact they have made on so many families, but our hope is that these awards help show our gratitude.”

Sharon Hague, Managing Director of Pearson School Qualifications, said: “Marie Lindsay and Michael Allen are shining examples of the wonderful educators who work tirelessly across the country to provide the best possible experience for their students, and we thank them all.

“Throughout the awards we’ve heard so many inspirational stories of school and college staff who show such exceptional dedication to their students, to their colleagues, and to their communities. Our congratulations go to all winners on their award.”

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi said: “I would like to congratulate Marie Lindsay and Michael Allen for this recognition of their amazing work and dedication to their students. Winning one of these awards is a terrific achievement and is testament to Marie and Michael’s skill, commitment and passion for teaching.

“We are lucky enough to have some of the best teachers in the world and I would like to thank every single one of our education staff for their hard work supporting children and young people, especially during the pandemic.”

Paul Mattias, National Director of Hays Education, supporter of The Award for Headteacher of the Year, said: “We work with thousands of schools across the country and know too well the impact of a truly inspirational leader. Michael Allen is clearly that, and their story shows us how respected they are by everyone who comes into contact with them. They are thoroughly deserving winners of this award, and we wish them all the best for their future career.”

The 2021 Pearson National Teaching Awards are open to every school across the UK. The awards were established by Lord Puttnam CBE in 1998 and are managed by the Teaching Awards Trust, an independent charity. The vision of the charity is to recognise and celebrate excellence in education. It does this through its public-facing ‘Thank A Teacher’ campaign www.thankateacher.co.uk, and through the Pearson National Teaching Awards www.teachingawards.com.