Tes Awards 2020: Classroom support assistant winner

‘She is a life changer, a valuable member of our school community’: Heath School Cheshire learning support assistant Julie Hayes wins this year’s award
13th November 2020, 8:34pm

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Tes Awards 2020: Classroom support assistant winner

https://www.tes.com/magazine/archive/tes-awards-2020-classroom-support-assistant-winner
Classroom Support Assistant

In a category where, as lead judge Rob Webster said, "above and beyond" and "going the extra mile" are common themes, Julie Hayes' nomination stood out for its ability to show her impact on the lives of people around her.

Ms Hayes joined The Heath School, in Cheshire, to support Emma, a student who sustained serious spinal cord injury on a funfair ride aged 12. She ended up playing "no small part" in Emma's excellent school-leaving results, as well as becoming a lifelong family friend, according to Emma's mother.

She said: "The family as a whole needed support to facilitate [Emma's return to school] and Julie was amazing with her upbeat approach and compassion during what was a very difficult and emotional time - nothing was too much trouble or unachievable in Julie's eyes."

Her impact school-wide is also impressive. She leads on numerous initiatives, including those promoting peer mentors and anti-bullying, and mental health ambassadors. She has established rigorous application processes and training for pupils who wish to take on these challenges and has enabled peer mentor training for other schools as well.

She also set up a cultural club to support students with English as an additional language and celebrate cultural diversity in the school. During the Covid crisis, she drove a minibus to deliver hampers and textbooks to vulnerable students. Ms Hayes is also a school governor.

One of her students said: "It's difficult to put into words all the amazing things Ms Hayes does for our school. She not only provides invaluable support to vulnerable students directly but gives other [students] the tools to build a healthy school life and help others."

Sir Kevan Collins, one of the judges, described Ms Hayes as a "dogged champion for under-served pupils", and praised her efforts completing her own degree course while working full-time.

 

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