Banbridge Academy is delighted that our Principal, Mr Robin McLoughlin, has been awarded an OBE (Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours 2021 List for services to Education. Mr McLoughlin, joined Banbridge Academy as Principal in January 2015 after serving as Principal at Grosvenor Grammar School from 2008.
The Chairman of the Board of Governors, Mr Dennis Livingstone, reflected on the wonderful news for our popular Principal by saying, ‘Mr McLoughlin is an outstanding leader who demonstrates unstinting commitment to the pupils, parents, his colleagues and the wider community. His child-centred approach, vision and boundless energy ensure extremely high quality education for our pupils’. Mr Livingstone continued, ‘He supports the pupils and colleagues in every aspect of school life and is ever present at school events and at the side of the sports pitches on Saturday mornings. He epitomises the Academy’s ethos of knowing and caring for the pupils as individuals, it is reassuring to see Robin as a man of faith living out his commitment to serve on a daily basis. Mr McLoughlin has been instrumental in securing the status of the Academy as one of Northern Ireland’s leading schools.’ The Chairman congratulated the Principal and noted his response – Mr McLoughlin modestly stated he represents the school and the award was not just for him but also for the colleagues and Governors who work alongside him, as well as his supportive family.
Mr McLoughlin graduated with a 1st Class Honours degree from Queen’s University Belfast and began his teaching career at the Academy in 1995, when he spent 11 weeks at the school as a student teacher. He joined Bangor Grammar School as a Physics Teacher in 1995 and subsequently occupied a number of posts, including Senior Housemaster, School Timetabler and Senior Teacher, alongside numerous extra-curricular commitments. He moved to Grosvenor Grammar School as Vice-Principal in 2003 and 5 years later was appointed Principal, leading the school through a period of sustained improvement and a £24m new school build.
Mr McLoughlin said he was honoured and completely surprised when he received notification of the prestigious award from the Cabinet Office. He said it was a very pleasant surprise particularly for his mother, as he lost his father earlier this year. Referencing the fond memories of his father, he said ‘My Dad (aka ‘Boss’) would have been very proud, as mum and he taught me on the family farm in Portadown, to work hard and give your best to help others’. Mr McLoughlin continued ‘I have been very blessed to work in three great schools, working alongside fantastic colleagues and parents helping to educate outstanding students. It is an absolute privilege to work in Banbridge Academy and this award reflects the part played by all pupils, staff, parents and Governors – definitely a shared honour.’
Throughout his career, Mr McLoughlin has worked on a number of steering groups tasked with compiling reports for government on improving education in Northern Ireland. Most recently he has been a member of the Department of Education’s Practitioner Group to plan for the safe reopening of schools following lockdown. He is a member of the DE and DfE Transition of Young People into Careers (14-19) Project Board, helping to plan for improvements in the future education system in Northern Ireland. He has also been nominated by his peers to represent them in a number of positions including – President of the Association of School & College Leaders (NI), Chair of the Association of Controlled Grammar Schools and Director of the Controlled Schools’ Support Council.
In conclusion Mr McLoughlin acknowledged the support from his wife, Jennifer – they have been stunned with the numerous messages of congratulations and goodwill. He also stated that he has been extremely grateful for the support the school and he personally received during this challenging year. He concluded by saying ‘Everyone deserves congratulations and an award, just for getting through this year. We have all stepped up and successfully adapted to the complex world of living through a pandemic.’