Belfast High School

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Belfast High School
Emblem of Belfast High School
Emblem of Belfast High School
720 Shore Road, Newtownabbey
County Antrim

United Kingdom[1]
Type Voluntary Grammar School
Motto "Labor Ipse Voluptas" Work itself is pleasure
Religious affiliation(s) Protestant
Established 1854
Opened 1963 (Current Site)
Founder J Pyper
School board Education Authority
Principal L F Gormley
Enrolment Approx. 900
Color(s)          blue and yellow

Belfast High School is a Voluntary Grammar School located at Jordanstown in Newtownabbey, County Antrim, Northern Ireland.[1] It lies within the North Eastern Region of the Education Authority. In March 2012 it has been recognised as one of only six post-primary schools in Northern Ireland to be in the top 10% for performance at both GCSE and A-level.[2]

In May 2007, Belfast High was awarded Specialist Status in the field of Languages, one of only 13 schools to receive such a status.[3] It is consistently awarded the International Schools Award, once from 2008–11 and again from 2011–14, and it is one of only five schools in the UK and the only one in Northern Ireland to win The European Language Label Award from the European Commission.[citation needed] These awards have culminated in the school receiving half a million pounds in additional funding for the study of languages.[citation needed]

Belfast High School is academically selective, meaning that all pupils wishing to gain admission to the school must sit a specially designed exam and attain over a set boundary in order to matriculate. In 2011, 59% of applicants to the school were admitted.


The institution now known as Belfast High School opened in 1854. In 1874, it moved to new premises at Glenravel Street, Belfast. Since the school was founded, there have been 7 head teachers:

  • (1854–1867) John Pyper He established the school as Pyper Academy, before changing its name to the Belfast Mercantile Academy shortly thereafter.
  • (1867–1917) James Pyper, the school's longest-serving headmaster. He was responsible for the building of what the Ulster Star described as "Mr Pyper's splendid new seminary"[4] in Glenravel Street.
  • (1917–1937) Spring Pyper
  • (1938–1966) Dr Robert Harte, who changed the school's name to its current title. Under his headship the school purchased Ardilea House, a large 19th century villa in Jordanstown, in 1953. Between then and 1963, when the entire school re-located from Glenravel Street, its then Vice-Principal, Harry Towell, headed a small suburban campus at the site. The house now forms the administration block, containing the staff room, sick bay, and offices of the principal, her secretary, the bursar and vice-principal. Dr Harte suffered a severe stroke in 1964 and his son acted as temporary head until the appointment of Mr Dunlop in 1966. Dr Harte was a Doctor of Philosophy and an eminent classical scholar.
  • (1966–1987) Samuel H Dunlop, who saw the building of a new science block (1970), the closure of Somerton House (the school's preparatory department) in 1981 and the enlargement of the school library (1980s)
  • (1987–2006) Stephen R Hilditch, who saw the Harte Building opened in the 1990s to house Home Economics, Careers, Technology, ICT and a science lab, the refurbishment of the science block (2001–2003) and the refurbishment and enlargement of the Music Department
  • (2006–present) Lynn F Gormley, who oversaw the installment of a state-of-the-art sports and fitness building which was opened by Dame Mary Peters in 2016.
  • (2016-present) Charlotte Weir joins Lynn F Gormley as acting principal.


The school has a house system. The tie a pupil wears is blue with a thick yellow band pattern, and a thinner band pattern of an additional colour representing the pupil's house.

The houses and their colours are as follows:

  • Boyd (green)
  • Pyper (blue)
  • Storey (red)
  • Watson (yellow)


Most of Belfast High School's pupils go on to study at university-level, with 87% of the pupils in 2011 going on to higher education. The majority of these go on to study at top-performing British universities, and the School regularly sends pupils to Oxford and Cambridge.[citation needed]


The three main sports at Belfast High are cricket, hockey, and rugby.[5]

Notable former pupils[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Belfast High School Home". Belfast High School website. Retrieved 2010-11-18. 
  2. ^ Fergus, Lindsay. "Northern Ireland schools league tables - A-Levels". Belfast Telegraph. Retrieved 1 July 2012. 
  3. ^ Specialist School Status Archived September 5, 2011, at the Wayback Machine., Belfast High School website. Retrieved 30 June 2012
  4. ^ The Witness, 4 September 1874
  5. ^ "Belfast High School Rugby". Belfast High School website. Archived from the original on 2012-02-17. Retrieved 2010-11-18. 

External links[edit]