Rebecca is Outstanding HLTA of the Year

Plymouth Higher Level Teaching Assistant (HLTA) Rebecca Ward has been awarded the Outstanding HLTA of the Year title for 2017.

Rebecca, who works at Courtlands Special School Academy in Plymouth, was presented with a trophy and framed certificate by Plymouth MP Johnny Mercer at an awards ceremony in Westminster on Monday (20).


Rebecca, centre, pictured with MP Johnny Mercer and the regional HLTA winners.

The Outstanding HLTA award is aimed at teaching assistants who have gained HLTA status and who go above and beyond the call of duty to demonstrate the vital role that HLTAs play within schools.

The Outstanding HLTA of the Year Award, now in its fifth year, is organised by the HLTA National Assessment Partnership (HNAP), an organisation made up of the four regional assessment providers that work together to manage and quality assure the assessment of standards for HLTAs across England: Best Practice Network (South West, West Midlands, East), University of Northampton, (East Midlands) Babcock 4S (London and the South East) and HLTA North (North East, North West and Yorkshire and the Humber).

Rebecca qualified for the national award by being judged the South West regional winner in the summer. She attended the national ceremony in Westminster with regional winners from across England.

Rebecca was nominated by colleagues who recognised her exceptional teaching and learning skills in the classroom, helping Courtlands pupils overcome their difficulties and regain a love of learning, as well as organising and running the school’s holiday provision and summer fair, and providing respite care for many of the school’s families in her own home, evenings and weekends.

Courtlands headteacher Lee Earnshaw said: “Rebecca’s quality work and unwavering dedication working for the children in Courtlands school has been inspirational to all members of staff, children and parents. Her tireless desire to go the extra mile for the children, and find ways of supporting the families during the holidays as well as in school time is truly outstanding.”

Professor Richard Rose, chairman of HNAP, said: “Rebecca had to meet a range of exacting criteria set by the judging panel, including demonstrating high aspirations for each pupil, a firm belief in pupils' abilities and a strong commitment to pupils' progress, as well as a continuing commitment to her own professional learning and development. This national title is very well deserved.”

National winner

National winner and South West regional winner - Rebecca Ward of Courtlands Special School Academy in Plymouth

Rebecca was nominated by colleagues who recognised her exceptional teaching and learning skills in the classroom, helping Courtlands pupils overcome their difficulties and regain a love of learning, as well as organising and running the school’s holiday provision and summer fair, and providing respite care for many of the school’s families in her own home, evenings and weekends.

The Courtlands headteacher tells us that “Rebecca’s quality work and unwavering dedication working for the children in Courtlands School has been inspirational to all members of staff, children and parents. Her tireless desire to go the extra mile for the children, and find ways of supporting the families during the holidays as well as in school time is truly outstanding. She is well respected and loved by all who work with her, as well as the children and families, and really deserves this award, as an unsung hero. She is far too modest to admit that she is an inspiration to others. Rebecca’s unwavering professionalism and real heart and kindness to all, has undoubtedly helped raise the standing of Courtlands as a leading establishment within the education sector throughout the south west.”

Regional winners

North West - Sylvie Litt-Wilson from St Bega's C of E Primary School in Cumbria

Sylvie’s headteacher says that “it is frequently commented on how Sylvie is 'the glue' that holds the staff together”. Her expertise covers a range of areas of school life and many aspects of the primary curriculum including Science, History, Geography, French and RE. She has a passion for teaching science and there is a huge amount of evidence to show her impact on children’s progress. She has made links with local industry, enabling children to explore careers within the nuclear power industry. Sylvie has also made an outstanding contribution to art within the school, leading the work towards the Artsmark award. She has developed links with the Beacon Museum in Whitehaven, liaising with an expert in History and the Arts. Sylvie shows a huge commitment towards helping children with special educational needs and disabilities. Many of her interventions have been extremely successful due to this commitment to children's learning and to tailoring schemes to their individual needs and abilities. Her colleagues say that her pastoral care of children and families is absolutely outstanding and that she is well-known as a 'go to' person within the school community, including for those who have suffered bereavement. They also say that she brings a sense of fun to the classroom and is a role model for the children. The children love her and miss her when she is not in school.

North East - Gemma Moppett from Easington Lane Primary School in Tyne and Wear

Gemma’s colleagues describe her “positivity and magical personality, which, along with her determination to see the best in everyone and every situation, cannot fail to be recognised in the children she teaches”. She is widely acknowledged within the school as a creative and proactive practitioner. Her enthusiasm is contagious and helps to motivate both pupils and colleagues. In this academic year alone, Gemma has played a key part in the successful application for funding to develop a Forest School on site, resulting in achieving Silver Status for the Woodland Trust Award. She has also worked towards the school’s accreditation for the Eco-Schools award. Gemma has attended a variety of training, including giving up part of her Easter holiday to visit Reggio Emilia in Italy to learn about Early Years approaches to teaching mathematics. She has been confident in cascading this training to the rest of the school, not only developing her own practice but also the practice of others. Gemma believes in a student centred approach to learning, understanding that all children have individual beliefs, interests and talents that should all be celebrated. She achieves this in the way she plans, teaches and assesses the children she works with. Her input has greatly accelerated the learning of children in the reception class. Her headteacher says that “she is an invaluable asset” and that “she can make the most miserable day appear the brightest”.

Yorkshire and the Humber - Amanda Russell from Methley Primary School in Leeds

Amanda’s colleagues say “she has a clear passion for her role and always goes the extra mile”. They say that she often spends her own time taking individuals and small groups of children for focused interventions to help them make progress but also to ensure that they develop self-belief and aspirations for the future. She has a particular heart for children identified as disadvantaged or experiencing difficulties at home, and enables them to experience activities they would not normally have the chance to. She strives to develop her own practice through self-reflection and by observing other teachers. Her specialist knowledge in PE encourages full participation for all, even the most reluctant. She has extended these skills to include exercise classes for the staff after school. She also has skills in the PSHE curriculum and her colleagues say that “she instils confidence in both teachers and pupils” in this curriculum area. Her headteacher comments that “you could not wish to meet (or employ) a more dedicated professional”.

East of England - Yvonne Matthews of Kimpton Primary School in Hertfordshire

Yvonne was nominated by teachers Jessica Dunk and Zoe Akers who praised her unwavering commitment to supporting the progress and learning of every single pupil. “Yvonne uses pupil progress data to inform her next steps in learning to maximise the progress that the pupils can make, not only for her own groups of pupils, but for groups working with other teachers and TAs. She celebrates the children’s success by sharing it with children in the moment so that it inspires others, she uses positive praise continually throughout her day and will share children’s successes with adults that are important to the child. Yvonne is someone who really makes a difference to the lives of those she works with. She is an asset to the school, she incorporates a friendly nature with highly professional attitude to the whole school. We are incredibly fortunate to have her on our team.”

South East - Annette Reeve from Sunbury Manor Comprehensive School in Sunbury-on-Thames

Annette works in a context where there are high levels of SEND and significant deprivation. She supports through Y11 maths intervention groups, resolutely engaging and challenging the children to achieve to their highest potential, despite their personal challenges. She has also made an exceptional contribution to the development of Maths Mastery, preparing schemes of work and developing colleagues through INSET sessions in school. Annette is fully involved in wider school life, attending the Y7 residential camp and leading a Y8 Transformational Dance Project to teach maths. Despite her own disability and requirement to use a wheelchair on occasions, Annette does not let this get in the way of her passion to support young people and contribute to school life. Her headteacher states that “she is a truly inspirational individual and she is an outstanding HLTA who provides something quite special to both students and staff”.

London - Bobbie McCabe from Cherry Orchard Primary School in Greenwich

Bobbie was the first HLTA to be awarded the status in the London Borough of Greenwich in 2005. Since then she has been an active ambassador for HLTA in the borough, providing network forums and CPD for HLTAs. Her expertise has been recognised nationally when she was invited to deliver a workshop at a national conference. Bobbie leads and chairs the termly HLTA CPD meetings in school as well as planning the annual HLTA conference for the London Borough of Greenwich. Bobbie line manages two HLTAs and 12 teaching assistants in the school and has a key role in supporting teaching assistants, giving them guidance and support for the Primary Writing Project in school. Her wider contribution to the development of HLTAs is exceptional and her involvement in CPD for support staff in school ensures quality provision is provided by all teaching assistants.

East Midlands - Jane Fenn from Ryhall Church of England Academy in Rutland

Jane is committed to ensuring that the children she works with, regardless of their needs, make good, if not excellent progress. The intervention work she plans and delivers, often going way beyond expected hours, not only relates to class work but extends to meeting individual needs and interests and demonstrates her commitment. The quality of the intervention is paramount to school success. For example, one SEND pupil made +7.9 progress in maths and achieved end of KS2 expectations, way beyond projected expectation. She works closely with year 6 children and those who would normally struggle with their next phase, helping them to leave school with an epic toolkit of strategies for learning and life that Jane equips them with. In her wider role, Jane has taken on the Food for Life project across the school, teaching children the skill of preparing healthy food. Jane represents her colleagues as the support staff governor, making sure their voice is heard and adopting a ‘can-do’ attitude to any problem that arises from display to timetabling. Jane was the only TA or HLTA on a recent KS2 literacy update course and impressed the course leader with her knowledge and skill level. Senior staff say that “Jane’s attitude is infectious and she inspires us all to want great things. Her mind-set and strength of character drives her to be the best she can and she instils this in the children in her care. I cannot think of a more deserving person from 20 years of teaching - I could not be more proud to work with such an admirable colleague”.

Contact your Regional Provider of Assessment for details on how to nominate colleagues for HLTA of the Year 2018