Northchurch teacher wins silver award at The Pearson National Teaching Awards

The Pearson National Teaching Awards is an annual celebration of excellence in education,

Tuesday, 30th November 2021, 2:58 pm

A teacher from a school in Northchurch has been honoured for her work during lockdown at The Pearson National Teaching Awards.

Selected from thousands of nominations, Sarah Gray, from St Mary's CofE (VA) Primary School, has been recognised as one of the Pearson National Teaching Silver Award winners across the country.

She won a silver award in The Lockdown Hero Award for Learner and Community Support for her outstanding commitment to changing the lives of the children she works with every day.

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To lift people's spirits after the lockdown was extended, Sarah turned to the dressing up box

From initiating a ‘Lockdown Library’ to introducing Google Classrooms to staff, parents and children, Sarah goes the extra mile with a smile on her face and a love of learning.

Sarah, who is the deputy headteacher at the school, started at St Mary's in September.

She said: "I was embraced by the school, who seemed to value my silliness while still taking me seriously when I wanted to make changes.

"When lockdown was announced in January, we found ourselves in a hugely different situation. We had been expected to learn from the first lockdown and deliver high quality provision, with very little time to prepare and with limited resources.

"Overnight, we had to develop our practice and support remote learning for children who's wellbeing had been dented by the first lockdown.

"Staff were, quite understandably, apprehensive about using the new technology, but we pulled together and managed what, at first, seemed impossible.

"Nicknamed "Miss (Google) Gray" by my colleagues, it felt like I lived and breathed the Google Classroom for three months.

"I am so proud of how well everyone embraced the technology and continue to develop their practice using it, even now. There haven't been too many silver linings in the cloud that is Covid-19, but the way that our children are able to access learning is one of them.

"I decided to record my lessons so they could be accessed in line with the needs for families and give the children a chance to work at their own pace. Immediately, the feedback from parents was much more positive and the children were engaging a lot more with their learning."

To lift people's spirits after the lockdown was extended, Sarah turned to the dressing up box.

She said: "I invented some characters "Mrs Mathstache" and "Story Tellin' Pete" who made appearances in daily meets and recorded lessons. I also dressed as a banana and a giant inflatable dinosaur.

"I was delighted that my silliness brought a little relief to our children and staff. Our weekly 3 o'clock stop live assemblies, became increasingly lively and usually ended with high energy "bananasize" and roping other teachers into dressing up and joining in the chaos.

"I also sent weekly emails to the parents in our class, trying to boost their morale and remind them that they weren't on their own. Their kind words and support meant so much to me, I wanted to the same for them."

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The Pearson National Teaching Awards is an annual celebration of excellence in education, founded in 1998 by Lord Puttnam to recognise the life-changing impact an inspirational teacher can have on the lives of the young people they work with.

​Lynne Osborne, headteacher at St Mary's CofE (VA) Primary School, said: "This is a massive deal, as there were thousands of entrants nominated from across the UK and only 12 silver winners.

"Sarah was nominated in the category of Lockdown Hero by the parents at the school.

"It was because she organised a Lockdown Library, support sessions for staff and great online learning - utilising characters such as 'Storytelling Pete'!"

Sarah added: "I am overjoyed to be a silver winner as Lockdown Hero in the Pearson National Teaching Awards.

"Having seen the story of the winners, announced on the one show last night, I am completely honoured to have even been considered worthy of recognition in comparison to their efforts.

"I am also so touched that our parents took the time to nominate me and show their appreciation for my efforts."