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Hurray for our teacher

As the Scottish parliamentary inquiry continues on motivating pupils, young people in a number of schools are in no doubt they are in the presence of inspirational teachers and teaching.

The annual Scottish education awards, held in Glasgow last Friday, saw two teachers nominated by their pupils win the inspirational teacher category - Joe Walker, who teaches religious education and psychology at Liberton High in Edinburgh, and Moira Mackenzie, a nursery teacher at Park primary in Invergordon.

For the first time, inspirational teachers were selected for both primary and secondary, and this will also be the first time when both will go forward to the UK final of the awards in October.

Mr Walker is said to have inspired increasing numbers of pupils to take up his subject, broadening their outlook by setting up a global citizenship group and making the subject come alive - on one occasion taking his pupils to meet the Dalai Lama.

Mrs Mackenzie, whose name was put forward by staff and parents as well as the pupils, was such an inspiration to her 68 three to five-year-olds that some parents were moved to write poetry about their children's favourite teacher. "Always smiling and full of great ideas" were among the fulsome commendations.

Mr Walker and Mrs Mackenzie also made contributions beyond their immediate teaching, which clearly made its mark on the judges. Mr Walker has undertaken charity work, raised pound;2,000 for a children's hospice, organised a variety show and taken part in a 24-hour sponsored fast.

Mrs Mackenzie has raised funds "to make sure the nursery is kept in tip-top condition", as she puts it, and does quality assurance work with partner nurseries.

Other winners, who receive prizes up to the value of pound;2,000, were:

* ICT learning award - Our Lady and St Patrick's High, Dumbarton

* Active citizenship award - St Stephen's primary, Glasgow

* Better behaviour award - Eastwood High, East Renfrewshire

* Schools for all award - Drumchapel High, Glasgow

* Healthy living award - Rosehall High, Coatbridge

* Enterprise in education award for primary schools - Donibristle primary, Fife

* Enterprise in education award for secondary schools - St Ninian's High, East Renfrewshire

* Enterprise in education award for business partnership - Kirkland High School and Community College, Methil, Fife

* Closing the gap award - Gypsy and traveller education support service, Fife

* Education supporter - Margaret Kiddie, Thorntree primary, Glasgow

* Design a logo competition - Chloe Stedman, St Mark's primary, Edinburgh (P1-P3); Sarah McKay, Dean Park primary, Edinburgh (P4-P7); Nikita Dyer, Kinross High (S1-S3) The education "oscars", now in their fourth year, attracted 536 entries, against around 150 last year. The awards are run by the Scottish Executive, with support from the Daily Record, BT and the Confederation of British Industry.

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