June 19, 2008

Newcomer Wins Outstanding Award

By Chris Fay

SOME of the region's best teachers have been recognised in this year's North-East Teaching Awards.

More than 250 pupils, parents, governors and teachers cheered the ten winners at the awards last night, which were held at the Sage music centre, in Gateshead.

Among them is Anna Wass, from Woodham Community Technology College, Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, who received outstanding new teacher of the year.

Miss Wass, 26, head of German, has only been teaching for two years, but spent a year as a language assistant in Austria.

"Teaching in its true form is the same all over - it is about passion, innovation and inspiration, " said Miss Wass, from Durham City.

"I'm thrilled with the award. It is great to be recognised, especially by the pupils.

"I've always been passionate about teaching, and I think it's a great job, but after this, I can't wait to get back in the classroom."

The awards, now in their tenth year, serve as the regional heat for the televised national finals.

Every year, 29,000 schools across England, Wales and Northern Ireland nominate headteachers, teachers, assistants and governors.

Winners can call themselves Fellows of the Teaching Awards Trust, the charity which manages the awards.

Valerie Bell, assistant headteacher of Shotton Hall School, Peterlee, received the Ted Wragg Award for Lifetime Achievement.

Ms Bell, 56, from Lumley Thicks, near Chester-le-Street, was recognised for her patience, thoughtfulness and 35 years of service to the same school.

"I'm thrilled, but there are some exceptional teachers at the school and I have an inspirational headteacher to thank too, as well as the pupils who continue to inspire me, " she said.

Debbie Abbott won Primary Teacher of the Year after ten years at the Portobello Primary School, Birtley, near Chester-le-Street.

Mrs Abbott, 33, from Low Fell, Gateshead, was recognised for her innovative approach which sometimes sees her teaching "in character".

"I have dressed up as a cat and Little Red Riding Hood, sometimes the children don't even know its me, " she said. "I let them talk to me in character and it really seems to excite them. To hear them talking about it in the playground after is great."

The other North-East winners were: Stephen Fraser, St Michael's C of E Primary School, Carlisle, primary headteacher; Judith Reed, West Jesmond Primary School, Newcastle, special needs teacher; Richard Wilkinson, Biddick School and Sports College, Washington, secondary headteacher; Amer Sheikh, Thornhill School Business and Enterprise College, Sunderland, award for enterprise; Sarah Buckham, Churchill Community College, Newcastle, teaching assistant; Ian Redford, Thornhill Business School and Enterprise College, Sunderland, secondary school teacher; Dorothy Elliott, Portland College and Specialist School for Cognition and Learning, Sunderland, governor.

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