HLTA of the Year 2016

Sue Brown was crowned Outstanding HLTA of the Year 2016 at the fourth annual HLTA of the Year awards held on the 21st of November. She was joined by all of the other regional winners for a tour of the Houses of Parliament and a presentation of the awards by Chair of HNAP Professor Richard Rose and MP Andrew Mitchell, who spoke eloquently about the dedication and commitment of the regional winners and the tremendous contribution that education makes towards a better the world.

The HLTA of the Year Award is aimed at teaching assistants who have gained HLTA status and is designed to highlight the hard work and dedication that HLTAs in particular across England put into their role and the vital support they give to pupils in their schools. Each year nine regional winners are chosen with one of them becoming named HLTA of the Year.

National winner

National winner and East Midlands regional winner - Sue Brown

Sue is a critical member of the school team who uses her specialist knowledge and training in SEND to work alongside and in support of colleagues to decide how best to fulfil the potential of children with a range of complex needs. She supports the SENCo with a range of specific assessments which has strengthened her understanding and ability to recognise the ‘whole child’, thus adapting the learning environment to meet their educational and social needs. Her passion for ensuring all children are recognised for their individual achievements meant that she was asked to steer a working party during consultation when devising the school’s values. Sue’s own love of sport, and especially swimming, mean that she helps run and attend sporting events, ensuring that her swimming coach qualification is put to good use with some of her group qualifying for Nationals. She is also very creative, staying late and coming in during holidays to support colleagues, having painted murals around the school, created props for plays to name but two contributions; this expertise is also deployed in planning and delivering art lessons to an excellent standard.

Senior Staff say that “she is an inspirational colleague who is thoughtful, supportive and dedicated. Her enthusiasm is infectious and her attention to detail reflects her commitment to our school - she is at the heart of what we do: motivating, encouraging and dependable - we don’t know what we would do without her.”

Regional winners

East of England - Cindy McLeish

The East of England region winner is Cindy McLeish of King’s Lynn Academy in King’s Lynn, Norfolk. Assistant principal Elanor Westbury says that Cindy “goes the extra mile to ensure that students exceed all expectations, even their own.”

“Cindy was a teaching assistant when we became an academy and has relished every new opportunity that has come her way since. She has been selected to become a form tutor and was promoted to HLTA in the English faculty where she has been an incredible support to the Head of Faculty and the entire team.

She has learned the ins and outs of three GCSE specifications in the last five years to ensure that she is able to support all students to achieve their very best. In addition, when the role of Assistant SENCo became available Cindy applied and was successful, she has worked in the team through challenging times of changing codes of practice and education, health and care plans and keeps herself up to date. Cindy is not afraid of challenge and rises each and every time something new comes along.”

London - Gill Koch

Gill is lead teaching assistant at West Lea School for children aged 4-19 with special educational needs. She leads a team of 50 TAs, training and modelling best practice in delivering the school’s mission and ethos. She is also the outreach co-ordinator training mainstream staff on best practice for working with children with SEN needs. She has been instrumental in developing a framework for responsibilities in the classroom used across the school. This enables teaching assistants to have a key role in the school’s classrooms. External audits of provision indicated that staff who were taking this on board showed real strength in the classroom.

North East - Joanne Scott

Joanne Scott is the winner for the North East Region. Joanne became a TA in 2003 and currently works at Park View School in South Shields. Chris Rue, Headteacher says that the school is very lucky to have a HLTA of such high quality working there. “Her key to delivering such a high level of teaching is her tenacious attitude of ensuring that she plans and delivers every lesson to meet the needs of each student in her class.” Joanne explains how her life has changed since achieving the HLTA Status.

“I really believe that I have learnt so much from working in a school as a TA and working through to HLTA status, I have learnt so much from so many people. I think the important thing to do is to keep reshaping and moulding your practice so that young people get the best deal and that you are always one step ahead with new ideas and innovative ways of keeping students engaged in learning. As I have become more experienced I also like to share good practice with my colleagues and work with others so we provide an outstanding learning environment across the school.”

North West - Paula Lacey

Paula Lacey from Rainford High Technology College in St. Helens is the regional winner for the North West. Paula is currently studying at University (PGCert SpLD (Dyslexia with AMBDA/ATS) as well as working full time. Paula explains what HLTA means to her, “I am proud every time I see a student achieve and every time a teacher comments that a student I have worked with is performing better in lessons. I feel proud when a student expresses that because of my team’s commitment and support, they feel better about coming to school. I feel proud when students whom have previously been non-attenders, have started to come to school regularly because they enjoy their literacy lessons. But mostly, I feel proud that I can prove that, no matter what difficulties students with SEND face, everyone has the potential to achieve and feel successful.”

South East - Sarah Wise

Sarah works at Holy Cross CE Primary School in Uckfield where she has worked with the school’s most vulnerable children and families and the positive impact she has on the lives of these children and families is immeasurable. Her support for these families goes above and beyond what is expected from a member of school staff. Sarah is often referred to as the ‘child whisperer’. She has a unique sense of what individual children need and will fight hard to ensure that they have these needs met. She strongly believes that each child has their own unique gifts and that their academic, emotional, social and cultural needs should not be automatic barriers for them not achieving their dreams.

South West - Alison Carpentier

The winner of the South West region is Alison Carpentier of Glenfrome Primary School in Eastville, Bristol. Alison teaches all classes from reception to Year 6. Headteacher Inger O’Callaghan says “She leads a team of fifteen teaching assistants and models excellent practice and high expectations leading to improved outcomes for children. Alison lives and breathes our core values of aspiration, fairness, courage, respect and joy, and expects the pupils to do the same.”

“Alison always treats all colleagues, parents and children with respect. She works tirelessly for the school, and has achieved a range of outcomes for Glenfrome, including leading our efforts to achieve our third Eco-Schools Green Flag award. She organises the pupil Eco Council, liaises with our business partner DAS to take the children on trips to complete an Eco Audit of their offices, and also to other places to find out more about environmental issues. Alison is also the staff link on our PTA committee.”

West Midlands - Lianne Tetsell

Lianne Tetsell of The Bridge School in Telford and Wrekin is the West Midlands region winner. Teacher Kate Parton says: "Lianne has worked as a HLTA in a Year 1 and Year 2 class for pupils with severe and complex learning needs for two and a half terms this year. She has fulfilled teaching responsibilities for this class during a period of long term absence, with the support of colleagues within the key stage and senior colleagues in school.

“She has effectively led a team of five teaching assistants and an apprentice. She has been an excellent role model to her team, who she has developed throughout the year. Lianne has high expectations and has ensured that her team are consistently following strategies to support learning and teaching. Lianne has worked at a consistently outstanding level throughout fulfilling this role, and in the many years in which she has supported teaching and learning within school.”

Yorkshire and Humber - Jeanette Barnes

Jeanette Barnes is the regional winner from Yorkshire and Humber. Jeanette is from Airedale Junior School, Castleford. Deputy Head Teacher Katie Robinson says that “Not only is Jeanette an inspirational HLTA, she is a major contributor to school life and a huge support to other colleagues in the school.”

Jeanette explains what she is most proud of since becoming an HLTA:

It is so satisfying when a child makes progress from an intervention I have been involved in. I am also continuing my international work and have planned to visit Africa again early next year to work in our partner school as well as arranging for a third year for one of the teacher’s from our partner school to visit our school. One of the things I am most proud of is seeing less confident children standing on stage in front of a full audience and performing. It might only be one line but their confidence develops and the pleasure they show just makes me smile with pride.”

Contact your Regional Provider of Assessment for details on how to nominate colleagues for HLTA of the Year 2017