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National award for Royal School head teacher

National award for Royal School head teacher

The head teacher of Royal School for the Deaf Derby, Helen Shepherd, has received a national award for excellence in recognition of her outstanding commitment to changing the lives of the children she works with.

Helen, who retires in August, was presented with a Pearson National Teaching Silver Award for her work in special educational needs by the headteacher who appointed her at the school 31 years ago, Tim Sylvester.

Described by Government inspectors as ‘inspirational’ and ‘outstanding’, Helen was appointed head teacher in 2015 when the school was placed in special measures and she has worked tirelessly to turn the school around. 

Thanks to Helen’s hard work, school results have improved across the board, wellbeing and counselling services for pupils have been established, firm bridges between staff and the school community have been built and there have been changes in culture, ethos, happiness and safeguarding.

Now, Government inspectors have judged the school ‘Good’ in every single category, while the residential unit – and Helen herself – have been described as "outstanding".

As a silver award winner, Helen has been invited to attend a special afternoon tea on The Thames and has been shortlisted to win one of just 16 gold awards later in the year.

Recognition of this once in a lifetime achievement will be broadcast on the BBC’s The One Show as part of a week-long celebration of teaching, which sees famous faces honour award winners every night in the run up to the ceremony.

The silver award winners were announced today (Thurs 26th) to coincide with national ‘Thank a Teacher Day’, designed to celebrate the schools and colleges at the heart of our communities. 

Helen said:

“It was a complete surprise to receive this award – I thought we were in assembly to thank all the teachers that work at the school.

“It is a really lovely honour and particularly nice to see Tim who gave me this job in the first place. I’m pretty speechless.”

Presenting Helen with the trophy, Mr Sylvester said:

“This is a very well-deserved award for someone who has given so much to the school, in so many departments, for so many years.”

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi said:

“Congratulations to Helen Shepherd on this incredible achievement, and for the hard work and dedication which led up to it. Winning this award is impressive, well-deserved and shows Helen’s commitment to helping students achieve their full potential.”

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. This year marks its 23rd year of celebrating our school teaching staff across the UK. 

Sharon Hague, Managing Director of Schools at Pearson UK, said:

“Congratulations to today’s Silver Award winners on their incredible achievement, they should all feel very proud of themselves. And thank you to all the incredible educators and support staff across this country who really do make our schools and colleges so special. I am delighted that we can take this opportunity to say how much we appreciate all that you do for the young people in your care.” 

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