The 2022 Teach Portsmouth Awards saw teachers, learning support assistants, school teams and school leaders honored for their support of young people over the past school year.
Hosted by award-winning comedian and broadcaster Shaparak Khorsandi, around 100 educators came to Portsmouth Guildhall and winners were announced in 10 categories including Unsung Hero, People’s Choice, Innovation in Teaching and Outstanding Contribution.
This year, two new categories have been introduced, Teaching Assistant of the Year and New Teacher of the Year to highlight those who don’t always get the recognition they deserve.
Councilor Suzy Horton, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Children, Families and Education at Portsmouth City Council presented the awards.
She said: “The past two academic years have been very difficult for school and college staff across the city due to Covid-19. However, a global pandemic has not stopped innovation in the classroom or staff from going above and beyond to support children and young people.
“The Teach Portsmouth Awards are an opportunity to recognize teaching excellence, reward best practice and showcase staff who have helped families in unique ways.”
The final category added to this year’s celebration saw Deborah De Caen from Admiral Lord Nelson School win the Teaching Assistant of the Year award for her dedication to supporting children with special educational needs.
The award recognizes a teaching assistant who has gone above and beyond to support children and young people in the classroom.
Deborah has dedicated over 20 years of her career to supporting young people. For the past five years, she has worked “tirelessly” to help young students with Down syndrome integrate them into school life.
On receiving the accolade, Deborah said she was “absolutely over the moon”.
She said: “It has been so rewarding. Working with children with special needs is trying to make them independent, but they need a lot of support to learn and socialize. it’s finding them buddies and friends. It’s trying to give them a lot more independence, taking them on trips, getting them to order meals on their own when we take them on trips.
‘It was wonderful. When you’re working on something with a student who is doing something that they find difficult and all of a sudden they can do it by seeing their face light up, it’s just amazing.
Another Admiral Lord Nelson School staff honored for his inspirational work for the New Teacher of the Year award was Lukasz Plaza, who joined the school in 2020.
During the pandemic, Lukasz completed a Google qualification to develop his own skills and in turn the department’s website. He has also used his own experience to help start-up teachers get organized through professional learning sessions and coaching.
Mr. Plaza has also become a mentor for a postgraduate certificate in education, committing to developing the practice of his colleagues.
Other winners included learning support assistant Dee Ient of Cumberland Infant School and Beacon View Primary teaching assistant Rebekah Egerton, who were co-winners of the People’s Choice Award sponsored by The news who has been presented by editor Mark Waldron.
Rebekah was rewarded for her work with children in difficulty.
Dee won the award for her efforts on behalf of visually impaired children over the past 15 years.
Upon receiving the award, she said she was “delighted”.
She said: “It’s a beautiful thing that the family can also participate in, because they support me at home. It’s just a very nice thing to hear everyone’s stories too.
Other winners were Chiara Fraser, Liv Fox and Sam Devoil from Portsmouth Academy for the Teaching Innovation Award.
The trio created a school reading revolution by “pushing” online learning.
Speaking about the accolade, Liv Fox said: “We put a big push on the electronic platform while they were learning at home.
“I wasn’t in the role I’m in at the time, but coming back from that, I’m doing it more in a personal way, so I really know the students. I used to be a support staff member, so I knew the students and I knew what they liked, what interested them and I try to do a tailor-made approach to find and listen to what they want. They really appreciate being heard in this way.
Sam added: “It’s not just about acknowledging ourselves as people who can move this forward, it’s about acknowledging that literacy matters because reading is access to the world.”
Music teacher Chris Ricketts from the Priory School received the Creativity Award which celebrates new approaches or adapted teaching methods that go beyond the curriculum, while Pete Dudley from the Trafalgar School was recognized for creating an LGBTQ+ club for students as part of the Inclusion and Diversity Award.
Pete has played an ‘instrumental’ role in supporting inclusion within the school community and has worked with many external organizations and partners to develop best practices in this area, confidently supporting LGBTQ+ students. .
The program team at Ark Ayrton Primary Academy were also honored with the Ceremony’s Community and Collaboration Award for their efforts in organizing a ‘week of kindness’ focused on the local community .
This year, the Unsung Hero Award went to Stacey Patrick, “master of all trades”, from the Art Dickens Primary Academy.
For the past 18 months, Stacey has been a cook, one-on-one support assistant, Playground Buddies reader and extra staff member for trips beyond her primary role as a school cleaner.
Katie Holness, Vice-Principal of Admiral Lord Nelson School, won the Outstanding Contribution Award.
Katie is an established member of the Inclusion Support Panel, offering high peer support with strong links to all of their partner primary schools, priding themselves on meeting the needs of every child and their family at school.