AN INTEGRATED school in Belfast has been named the best secondary school in Britain and Northern Ireland at a prestigious awards ceremony.
Hazelwood Integrated College was named Secondary School of the Year by a panel of industry experts at the Tes Schools Awards in London on Friday.
The school, in Newtownabbey, North Belfast, came out on top having been shortlisted in 2019 and 2021.
And last, but by no means least, we have @hazelwoodni who have won the Secondary School of the Year award 👏
— Tes for Teachers (@Tesforteachers) June 17, 2022
"It is fantastic to receive recognition for the work we do on a daily basis," read a statement from the school on social media.
"Just thrilled to win the TES UK Secondary School of the Year.
"Thank you to the staff, students and entire Hazelwood Integrated College Community."
— Hazelwood Integrated College (@hazelwoodni) June 17, 2022
Tes, formerly the Times Educational Supplement, described Hazelwood as 'a high-performing, co-educational, all-ability integrated school with students from different cultural, religious and socioeconomic backgrounds in an area of multiple deprivation in Belfast, straddling the North Belfast Peace Line'.
In 2020, the college was the most oversubscribed school in the area, even ahead of grammar schools.
It has been in the median to upper quartile for five GCSEs including English and maths for the past five years.
Delighted to win the TES UK Secondary School of the Year. Thank you to our staff, students and the entire Hazelwood Community. @Education_NI @Ed_Authority @niciebelfast @EducateAdvise @robbeorn @ETI_news @WmHumphreyDUP @JulieACorr @johnfinucane @NualaMcAllister pic.twitter.com/MP8x5Sa8cA
— Hazelwood Integrated College (@hazelwoodni) June 18, 2022
"It's so unusual, with 58 per cent of students on free school meals and yet it's more popular than local grammar schools, which says something about parents' regard for the school," said judge Christine Gilbert, a former secondary school headteacher and chief inspector at Ofsted from 2006-2011.
"It brings together social workers and youth workers to work together with teachers and learning mentors; they work and plan together and that seems to be pushing the achievement up.
"It's astonishing what they’re doing."
Hazelwood, one of the first integrated schools in Northern Ireland, opened in 1985 with an initial intake of just 17 pupils.
Today, it is the most oversubscribed school in North Belfast and with more than 1,000 pupils, has recently received approval for a new build from the Department of Education.