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24/09/2021

Principal bids a fond farewell to Waterside primary school ‘that was in his DNA’

Ebrington PS retirement 1
The principal of a Derry primary school who spent time there as a pupil and teacher before returning to take the lead role for many years has retired. Nigel Dougherty’s father was a pupil at Ebrington Primary School in the 1930s when it was based at Ebrington Presbyterian Church and growing up on Bonds Street Mr Dougherty became a pupil one year after it relocated to Ulsterville Avenue/Lapwing Way in 1960. He would qualify as a teacher, before returning to Ebrington PS as a vice-principal in 1989 where he spent six years. Mr Dougherty’s journey then took him to Drumahoe PS, before he went full circle a year and a half later, by returning as principal to the school where he was taught as a young boy. “I felt a draw to the school,” he told the Derry News. “I loved being in Drumahoe as principal but when I saw the job advertised (at Ebrington) I just couldn’t help but apply for it and I’ve been here ever since. “There was something special about going back, I’d taught there, I’d been there as a child and knew the history of the school with my father being there. “Ebrington was always in my DNA and it was nice to end up back there as principal.” He added: “My aim as principal was to ensure it remained a school where you would receive a really good education, where children mattered. “I always really wanted to ensure that, when people thought about Ebrington, they thought about good standard of education and good pastoral care. “And that your child would enjoy their time at the school.” The fact the school was situated at the bottom end of the Waterside has presented its own challenges over the years in terms of fluctuating student numbers which in turn affected finances and staffing. “It certainly went through very difficult times but I think you have to have a big vision and that was to move to a new school within a developing Waterside,” Mr Dougherty added. “It wasn’t about renovations, we needed a new building and that had to be at the centre of the Waterside.” Therefore, the school relocated to a new site on the Limavady Road in March 2017 and they now have a full quota of pupils, including two full-time nursery classes, 420 children in the primary school and two speech and language classes - which serve the entire city. During his tenure some of the most special moments have involved the extra-curricular achievements of pupils, such as winning a song writing competition which culminated in a performance at the Millennium Dome in London, performing on Blue Peter, following the success of the school football team and taking part in the UTV choir of the year. He has also taken pride in the general running of the school and supportiveness of parents and staff. “I’d like to pay tribute to the teaching staff and all of the auxiliary staff as well, they have all been a joy to work with,” he continued. “It has been a big, big team effort Ebrington Primary School. “I will miss the staff and children, I’m trained as a teacher and although I’ve been stuck in the office too much, I always love to get into class and talk to the children and that reminds me that my first love was teaching,” he said. Moving into retirement Mr Dougherty said he’ll have to find a hobby or two to occupy his time and he plans to spend time with his grown-up children who live in London and Melbourne. “I’m not well travelled, so I’d like to travel a little bit more. In January or February I’ve pencilled in Australia.” Above - Nigel pictured with members of his family following his retirement.

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