Original ‘Derry Girl’ is UK Head Teacher of the Year

Original ‘Derry Girl’ is UK Head Teacher of the Year

27 June 2023

Dubbed the ‘Oscars of Education’, the TES Schools Awards celebrate the extraordinary commitment, quality and innovation shown by teachers and support staff across the UK.

LEH’s extremely strong results – the school recorded its best-ever A level and GCSE results last year and strengthened its place in the top 20 of UK independent schools – is a product of a happy, relaxed and self-confident culture encouraged by its well-respected Head Teacher.

Colleagues say it was thanks to a culture of trust, openness and sincerity – underpinned by a strong pastoral support system – that pupils were able to work through responses to complex social issues like those the recent ‘Everyone’s invited’ movement raised for young women. They were also empowered to act, with sixth formers establishing a new peer mentoring programme that has now been expanded to include younger pupils.

The recent ISI report recognised Mrs Hanbury’s critical role in LEH’s success, offering fulsome praise of her leadership. She is also held in high esteem by her peers; she was appointed President of the Girls’ Schools Association (GSA) in September 2022.

Mrs Hanbury grew up on a council estate in south Belfast and attended Princess Gardens School, now known as Hunterhouse College in Finaghy; the school used to film the television show ‘Derry Girls’. She later went onto Edinburgh University and Cambridge University and had a career as a management consultant before turning her talents to teaching. Mrs Hanbury came from a modest background and was inspired in her own education by her father, a joiner and carpenter, who left school at 14 but achieved his dream by going to university at the age of 38.

Judge Julie Robinson, General Secretary of the Independent Schools Council, said: “Heather has been a tireless champion of girls’ education for many years. She’s also led the way in establishing quality independent and state partnership activity and her work in this area is rightly being honoured here.”

Heather Hanbury from Lady Eleanor Holles said: “I am overwhelmed with delight at this award – it means so such a lot. I retire in a few weeks’ time, so this is an incredible way to leave the profession that I love so much! I am so proud of the work of everyone at LEH school, including our brilliant and inspiring students. My nine years at LEH have been the best of my career. To be presented with my award by TV star James Nesbitt was the icing on the cake!’.

TES editor, and chief judge of the Schools Awards, Jon Severs said: “These awards showcase just how vital our education professionals are to every facet of this country. Teachers, leaders and support staff all play such an important role in schools: this is our chance to say thank you for all that they do.”

To find out more, please visit: https://www.tes.com/en-gb/schools-awards

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