We are pleased to announce that Jill Birch from Birkwood Primary School, Barnsley, is the national winner of the HLTA of the Year award 2015. We congratulate her and all of the nominees for their outstanding practice.
L-R: Ghazala Khan, Josie Wilkinson, Dina Mayes, Sharon Farrell, Jill Birch, Marion Fearon, Jenny Boyce, Michaela Mason and Jake Clarke.
Jill travelled to London to receive her award from MP Nic Daykin and to enjoy a tour of the Houses of Parliament, along with the eight other regional winners.
East Midlands Regional Winner
Dina Mayes from New College, Leicester City
Dina is a literacy specialist and delivers targeted literacy intervention across the college, supporting the least academic students, who as a result, make expected or better progress from their starting point. She is the advocate for all SEN students within the English department and delivers faculty based and whole school training associated with literacy and RWI Freshstart, line managing other TAs in this area as well as working with the head of faculty to develop a targeted tracking system.
Dina was a student of the college herself and has, during her career, constantly developed her skills, taking a Foundation Degree in Education and going on to a BA Honours programme. She is part of the LA’s Whatever It Takes research group (looking at reading) and attends all LA INSET, collaborating with colleagues from Ruth Miskin to develop the RWI programme at the college through differentiation schemes, structured activities, mentoring and peer support.
Senior staff say that, ‘ Dina has extremely high expectations and believes all students can achieve success with every lesson being a new beginning; all staff, students, parents and carers value her opinion and professionalism without question’.
East of England Regional Winner (ELC)
Ghazala Khan from Queens Park Academy, Bedford
Ghazala runs and develops the school’s Children’s Kitchen. The Children’s Kitchen provides all children within this large primary school with the opportunity to cook and learn about healthy lifestyles. Ghazala worked with the senior leadership team to design and develop both the physical space and the curriculum. Ghazala’s passion for providing engaging and long lasting learning is outstanding. Children thoroughly enjoy their time in the kitchen and many recently voted it as their happiest place to learn in the school.
Ghazala takes her own learning very seriously. Her commitment to her study is described as “outstanding” by her line manager. She constantly seeks opportunities to engage in initiatives that relate to health and nutrition. One of her targets this year has focused on developing community links, she now runs a parent and child cookery club after school.
Ghazala has worked alongside a colleague from a neighbouring county to develop practice. Her passion for what she does is evident in her enthusiasm for initiatives such as the Sainsbury’s mini chef awards and various Jamie Oliver initiatives. She ensures the school is involved in events such as the world record attempt for the greatest number of children cooking together.
Yorkshire and Humber Region (Outstanding HLTA of the Year Winner)
Jill Birch from Birkwood Primary School, Barnsley
Jill has worked at Birkwood Primary School for eleven years and has been an HLTA since 2006. During that time she has gone from strength to strength and is now a senior HLTA with whole-school responsibility for Art and Design Technology. Jill’s colleagues describe her as an outstanding role model who encourages a can-do attitude. She works mainly with Y6 children and demonstrates expertise in a wide range of areas – in reading, writing, maths and in practical science. Her support has helped children to significantly improve their reading skills. She willingly gives up her break and lunch times to support pupils.
She also has strengths in art and design, shown in displays around the school, and she has helped the school achieve the Artsmark Gold Status. Her colleagues state that she teaches excellent whole class lessons and always finds ways to give children explanations.
She is always willing to take on new ideas and initiatives. She has been particularly proactive in coaching and mentoring other staff in the Thinking Actively in a Social Context programme. She has a gift for developing Philosophy for Children and she has shared her talent with others. Visitors watching her teach a Y6 Philosophy for Children lesson described it as an ‘emotional experience’.
And as if that is not enough, she is also a member of the school’s governing body. Her school say that ‘she is inspirational and we are very proud of her’.
South West Regional Winner (Best Practice Network)
Jenny Boyce from The Wey Valley School, Dorset
Jenny is described by the school Principal, Sara Adams, as a quite remarkable individual who has that rare quality in a HTLA of consistently showing and delivering excellence rarely seen in others.
‘She makes a real difference to the lives of our most vulnerable students and gives up most weekends of her time freely be it Duke of Edinburgh expeditions, tall ships races, camping trips or school trips to our sister school in Nepal. The staff, students and parents of the school hold her in the highest esteem.
Jenny has high aspirations and a ferocious energy which translates to the students in a true ‘you can do it’ attitude; she has inspired many students especially those who have extreme difficulties to push themselves to succeed both in and out of the class room. She has a very outgoing and confident personality and she has the ability to light up any room.
Jenny has progressed learning from Year 7 to Year 11 working with a wide range of students to raise attainment and whole school happiness. She works with the sole purpose to allow the student to feel safe, supported and inspired to do their very best.
Over the last 12 years Jenny has loved to learn and become qualified to support her role within the PE and Outdoor Learning Department. From being First aid trained she went on further so she could teach First Aid to students and just recently has attended a highly advanced course in wilderness medicine. She has become a very experienced HLTA and often advises teaching and non-teaching staff to help them improve. She is an amazing woman and truly deserves the recognition that this regional award brings.’
South East Regional Winner (Babcock 4S)
Jake Clarke from Hartsdown Academy, Kent
Jake is a hardworking and conscientious member of staff who consistently shows dedication and a valuable work ethic. He has proven to be an asset in his position as HLTA in the Health and Social Care Department. Jake has the ability to link the understanding of the subject that he teaches with teaching strategies to enable the student’s to remain engaged so that they access both the practical and academic application of Health and Social Care.
Jake is motivational and encouraging in his approach to pupils, arranging individual tutorials and consistently recognising achievements. He contacts parents/carers to share and celebrate success. All this promotes pupils to achieve excellent results, evidenced in their 2015 GCSE exam in which the group achieved high grades, including C and above.
Colleagues respect Jake for his professionalism, expert approach, dedication and engaging personality. He contributes to many areas of school life, including Open Evenings, Training Events and Parents’ Evenings, inspiring displays and projects and taking the role of ‘Gifted and Talented’ Mentor in his department.
As further demonstration of Jake’s commitment and dedication, he has undertaken an Open University Degree Course in English which he will complete next year. This is incredibly impressive as he is completing his degree under his own initiative and alongside his HLTA role.
West Midlands Regional Winner (Best Practice Network)
Josie Wilkinson from Featherstone Primary School, Birmingham
Josie is described by her Headteacher as a vibrant and active member of the whole school team. She plans and delivers high quality P.E. lessons and has promoted an active, healthy lifestyle, instilling self-confidence in children who showed no initial interest in participating in sport.
Josie was instrumental in helping the school achieve the award for Outstanding Change4Life Sports Club delivery at the SGO National Summit Awards 2014. She also played a proactive and lead role in securing the school’s recent national Leading Aspect Award.
Josie provides differentiated intervention groups tailored to their learning styles. Resources are adapted and lots of motivation and praise is given. Children enjoy their interventions as their work is celebrated and strategies discussed with parents, class teachers and the Senior Management Team. She gives additional support for disadvantaged pupils and their overall progress has increased so now children are working towards more challenging targets.
Josie shows complete dedication and works with the NHS, ASDA Walmart and a local horticultural business to continue embedding health and wellbeing across the whole school to meet the school’s priorities and to improve outcomes.
As a role model, Josie shows commitment, dedication and integrity. She is always willing to help others and goes the extra mile over and above her role. Josie provides PPA and short term cover across KS1 and adult learners seek her advice to develop their own learning and skills. In summary, ‘Her enthusiasm and dedication in making a difference for the children is quite simply outstanding!’.
North East Regional Winner
Marion Fearon from The Beacon Centre, South Shields
Marion has worked for the Alternative Education Service for over 15 years, predominantly with students between the ages of 11 and 16 who are at risk of or who have been permanently excluded from school. Her colleagues say that she works tirelessly for the benefit of the young people, helping them overcome the difficulties they face and developing their confidence and self-esteem. She teaches small groups and whole classes across a range of subjects and takes a lead role in delivering emotional resilience.
She runs the counselling and mentoring service for students allowing teaching staff to focus on educational progress. She leads and manages a team of teaching assistants. In fact, her school describe her a true leader who has excellent relations with her colleagues and who epitomises hard work and dedication. She ensures all students have a voice, as shown by her input into the school council.
Marion has continued to develop her own knowledge and skills by completing a counselling qualification which has now led to a degree in counselling at Sunderland University. This has enabled her to train other staff at the school.
Beyond school, she also offers her skills voluntarily to help adults within the community, working with a team to keep young people safe in the town centre at night.
London Regional Winner (Babcock 4S)
Michaela Mason from St Andrew’s and St Mark’s CE Junior School (SASM)
Michaela has been a central figure in the life of SASM school. During her time she has filled many roles including, Chair of the PTA, Fire and Safety Officer as well as being an inspiring HLTA. Single-handedly she leads interventions for less able pupils, securing the progress of pupils who need her special support and challenge the most.
In addition her impact on academic achievement, Michaela works with pupils to improve their levels of motivation and self-esteem. Every class teacher who has worked with Michaela has seen an visible impact as a result of her support. For example, Michaela has spent her own time after work teaching a child who did not understand multiplication. As a result, the pupil moved from thinking that maths was impossible to finding it achievable. It is this level of skill and dedication that makes Michaela stand out as an exceptional HLTA.
Michaela always ensures she has the subject knowledge to support the class teacher to the utmost degree. Without prompting, Michaela will be assessing pupil progress; supporting SEN children and challenging the more able in the course of every lesson. As a GCSE tutor outside of school, She is able to bring a high level of knowledge in relation to maths and literacy and fully appreciates what pupils need in order to succeed.
In her wider professional role Michaela is the school’s health and safety officer, monitoring and advising on all fire procedures and running health and safety training for all new recruits. She has volunteered for two hours a week as a Cygnet/Barnardo’s facilitator to support parents whose children are on the autistic disorder spectrum – giving parents’ strategies that are used in a school setting.
North West Regional Winner
Sharon Farrell from Willow Tree Primary School, St Helens
Sharon has worked at Willow Tree Primary School for over twenty years. As a member of the middle leadership team she leads the ‘Making a Difference Team’ and coordinates the Read Write Inc programme, which is having a huge impact on pupil progress.
She arranges and delivers interventions throughout school, tracks pupil progress and monitors the impact. She attends all pupil progress meetings. She is herself a qualified Better Reading partner. She has a particular interest in SEN but has also supported groups of able pupils. Her role has involved her in liaising with outside agencies. She teaches classes throughout the school.
Sharon has been instrumental in developing the breakfast club, which has had a major impact on whole school life, on attendance and on parental contact. I believe staff also make use of the breakfast provision. She has engaged parents who are hard to reach and has arranged parenting classes. In addition she has implemented a new reward based behaviour programme.
She mentors colleagues, especially those new to the school. For instance, she recognised and acted on the need to arrange ipad training for other teaching assistants. The early breakfast club start does not prevent her also running the school netball club. And, on top of all that, she chairs the school’s Friends Association.