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Diane Lyness

Diane Lyness Goldsmith

Be Inspired Series

Anne Scott

St. Patrick's College in Maghera

Mrs Scott was appointed Principal of St. Patrick's College in 2004. She herself studied at St. Mary's College, Belfast.


Tell us about a typical working day


 An early bird, I normally awaken around this time with the hope of getting another 15 minutes of sleep. With the alarm set for 7am, I am normally up and about well before the alarm actually sounds. Even at weekends, I much prefer to rise early and make the most of every day.

A quick shower, followed by catching the morning news bulletin at 7.25am starts the day.  

Then a light breakfast before I head off to St. Patrick's. 


I travel to school via my father's house every morning. I say a quick hello to my father -  a very sprightly gent who's 92 years' young- and then check in on my brother Gerard. Ensuring my father and brother, who has special needs, are up, dressed and ready for the day is our regular routine, and for me, it's peace-of-mind before the working day commences.


Shortly after 8am I arrive at the school, which gives me 30 minutes to deal with post, emails and prepare for the day ahead. On Tuesdays, I prepare for the weekly staff briefing, which is essential for a school that houses a staff of 84 teaching staff and is home to almost 1,300 pupils. 


I operate an open door policy at St. Patrick's and from 8.30am onwards, teachers call in to discuss any pressing matters. I enjoy an excellent working relationship with the team at the school and with our Vice Principals - Brenda Mussen and Michael Toner. We regularly catch up for an informal meeting before the bell sounds,.


From then on, every day is different. For a large school, that offers pupils a vast choice of subjects my role is to oversee the running of a tight ship with many stakeholders. 

From parental/pupil meetings to catch ups with teachers on curriculum changes, I juggle the school's requirements with those of the wider community.


A meeting with the support staff at the school to discuss the latest data analysis and also to meet with the Bursar, Mrs Anne Higgins. This is a chance to take time to focus on the school's on-going work and progress. Thankfully this on-going assessment is working extremely well and earlier this year, St. Patrick's was ranked as the top non-selective school in Northern Ireland for exam performance, based on pupils achieving five plus GCSEs at A*-C which include the core subjects of English and Mathematics.

1:00pm: 1:45pm:

Lunchtimes vary from visiting the staff room or alternatively catching up with the VPs over a working lunch. However when possible, I try to make a point of walking around the school's grounds.

1.45pm - 5.30pm:

The afternoon sees the continuation of meetings with stakeholders. St. Patrick's enjoys a close working relationship with the local primary schools and works hand in hand with them to ensure a streamlined approach to subjects, enabling a smooth transition for primary pupils to secondary education. 

The school is currently embarking upon a year of activities to mark its 50th anniversary year so the team and I  hold weekly update meetings on the progress our campaign. It's a milestone year for the school and we felt it was a fitting time to celebrate the school's successes and achievements. 


After a fulfilling day I usually depart around 5.30 / 6pm unless there's an evening event or Board of Governors' meeting. En route home I call in with my father to catch up on how his day has been followed by a short commute home.


Family meal time is very important in our household and with five sons and my husband; it can be a very busy house! One of my sons is currently in Australia, whilst the others have very busy lives so dinner varies from just my husband and I, to the four boys and us.


In the brighter evenings I try to meets my sister-in-law for a brisk three mile walk or visit with  other family members and friends. 


Time to relax. A bath followed by catching up on emails and then settling into a good thriller by John Grisham or falling asleep in the middle of a movie completes a hectic day. 


Lights out.


Part of the Independent News and Media group