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Honoured for support

Secondary head of the year nominated by parents of pupil who died of leukaemia

A HEADTEACHER paid an emotional tribute to a pupil who died of leukaemia after winning a coveted Plato award at the 2007 Wales finals of the Teaching Awards this week.

Roger Skilton, head of Llangatwg comprehensive, Neath, and winner of the RAF award for secondary head of the year, was nominated by parent Malvena George. Her daughter, Helen, was a pupil at Llangatwg but died two years ago, aged 16, from leukaemia.

Mr Skilton, a teacher since 1973 who has spent almost all his working life at Llangatwg, was commended for the love and support he provided.

"I don't think we did any more than other schools would have done. Helen was a special pupil - she would have gone on to get As and A* GCSEs," he told the audience gathered at Cardiff's city hall for the ceremony.

"She also cared for others. People would go to her with their problems."

Meanwhile, another star teacher completed a family double. Dylan Evans, of Ysgol Gynradd Gymraeg Caerffili, won this year's BT award for primary school teacher of the year. His father, Allan, received the top award for lifetime achievement in 2005. Mr Evans senior has since retired, having masterminded the merger of two schools in Carmarthen.

Mr Evans, 34, will follow his father into headship when he takes over at Ysgol Iolo Morganwg in Cowbridge, Vale of Glamorgan, in the autumn. The audience heard that his innovations in maths lessons, such as bringing in bank representatives to talk about money, had helped him clinch the award.

"We live in a society with so much debt - I want them to understand the value of things," he said. "We also want to start a savings club."

Caroline Evans, chief executive of the Teaching Awards, said that across the UK there were 6,700 nominations for 11 categories - half from children and parents - and 1,700 visits to school by the judges. Among those presenting the awards was Steve Marshall, the Assembly government's director of education, culture and the Welsh language.

"I started off as a teacher and found it one of the most rewarding things I've ever done," he said.

This year's lifetime achievement award, in memory of the late Ted Wragg and sponsored by the innovation unit, went to Paulette Hanscombe of Llanrumney high school, Cardiff.

She became a teacher in 1967 specialising in science, but switched to social inclusion. The audience heard she played a big part in cutting the numbers of pupils leaving without qualifications from 15 per cent to just 2 per cent.

All winners will now be entered for the UK final, to be held in London in October.

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