A few days ago our inbox contained an invitation to consider nominations for the TES awards. One of the most intriguing was the Lifetime Achievement award.
The entry form can be found here. http://www.tesawards.co.uk/tessawards2017/en/page/entry-form
‘This award will reward someone who has made a significant contribution to education. It could be a well-known figure or a local hero. In your submission, explain exactly what the individual has achieved in their career and why you feel they deserve the trophy.’
‘… significant contribution …’
‘… well-known figure …’
‘… local hero …’
‘…exactly what the individual has achieved …’
Picking out the key phrases provides much food for thought. Few teachers are given the honour of being a dame or a knight outside a small group of leaders. Some are awarded other gongs, but of the tens of thousands of teachers in the UK, most will go unrecognised beyond the confines of their own school or setting.
So who may deserve the lifetime achievement award? ‘Lifetime’ being the key word in this title.
The secretary of the local sports council who has held the post since 1972, run district teams every Saturday in the football season, single handedly ran cricket in the summer and who still organises everything despite retirement?
The school crossing patrol who has turned up in wind, snow, hail and blazing sunshine for thirty years and then pitches up in school to support readers?
The SENDCO who was a SENDCO before they even existed, who has literally as well as metaphorically given blood, sweat and tears for their children.
We can all think of someone who is truly committed and deserving of recognition for their tireless devotion, selflessness and refreshing lack of ego. It is worth taking the time recognising them, even if they don’t reach the final stages of the process.
Maybe there is someone in Special Education deserving of recognition. We are in awe of the patience and professionalism shown in this sector. Meeting such complex needs; facing the daily challenges that can include verbal and physical assault; planning for and achieving the tiniest but most significant of steps; managing and challenging behaviours that even the police would find demanding; keeping these children, happy, safe and nurtured. If anyone is deserving of unsung hero status, look no further than the staff who work with those children with the most severe needs, behavioural and mental health concerns.
Primary teachers often receive some unfair criticism through social media, usually from someone who hasn’t been in a primary school since the age of 11. The groundwork that the primary sector provides, in social skills, behaviour for learning, manners and values is invaluable, as we are often told by Year 7 transition teachers. Primary education is not all glitter, glue, finger painting and discovery learning. There is plenty of direct instruction, rigour and firmness of discipline. Ask any adult to choose their best teacher. Chances are the majority will choose someone from their primary days.
So if primary school teachers are some of the heroes of education, don’t forget the ‘shock troops’ of the sector; those in EYFS. In Nursery and Reception classes these wonderful people are dealing with tears and snot, pooh and wee, tantrums and traumas. When you are three, and the firefighter’s outfit isn’t there, this is of lifestyle challenging significance. If you are in primary, go and visit your Reception and Nursery classes. Those aren’t painted smiles; there are no gritted teeth; this is dedication to love of learning in its simplest and purest form.
The real heroes of education will stand in front of a whiteboard, not sit behind a keyboard. The vast majority will never appear on an award nomination list, the New Year Honours board or even have a bench with their name on. They are there on the frontline every day and for this their best reward is recognition of their strengths and acknowledgement of their wellbeing.