Justine Greening tells teachers 'you are celebrities' at Tes Schools Awards 2017

Education secretary praises role of teachers and schools following Manchester attack and Grenfell Tower disaster

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Education secretary Justine Greening has told teachers that they are the first celebrities we have in our lives as she addressed the Tes School Awards 2017.

The event, held in London this evening, honours the work that teachers are doing every day, across the country.

Ms Greening said: "We do live in a celebrity culture, but I really do feel that teachers are the first celebrities that we have in our lives.

"I go back to my childhood, and I do remember that if you spot a teacher in the supermarket, how exciting that is for all of us. It was like 'what are they buying?'

"You are celebrities and that's why these awards really matter because they are celebrating all the amazing work you do."

More than 1,100 people who gathered at the Grosvenor House Hotel applauded as Ms Greening singled out those who are helping the children in the schools affected by the Grenfell Tower fire, and after the terrorist attack in Manchester.

She said: "I really feel that teachers have been the unsung heroes alongside the emergency services in those situations, so I just want to say a massive, massive thank you, because your professionalism helped so many children start to get through what has been an incredibily traumatic time for them."

She said she that this morning she met the headteacher of Kensington Aldridge Academy, in the shadow of Grenfell Tower block, who she praised for his "incredibly hard work" since the blaze. 

She added: "We are going to do everything we can to make sure they are back in their proper school as fast as possible, and I would like to thank all the other schools locally who have helped us make sure that those children are back at home or back at school studying and still learning despite everything that happened."

Ms Greening presented the lifetime achievement award to Sine MacVicar, headteacher of Dunbeg Primary School, near Oban in western Scotland.

She joins 120 shortlisted entries in 17 categories, including school of the year, headteacher of the year, international award, and the community impact award.

Ms MacVicar has not only dedicated 44 years to the school, but plays a key role in the wider community.

She is a long-standing figurehead in Girl Guiding, runs various groups for young people, and actively supports her church.

She also invites elderly members of the community into the school to be cooked for and entertained by pupils at the harvest lunch, and the school’s nativity concert is always oversubscribed.

A new street in the village has even been named after her in honour of the work she has done.

The judges described Ms MacVicar’s entry as “absolutely stunning”, and added: “She has put the school at the heart of the community, and the time, energy and commitment that she has dedicated is extraordinary.”

Ms MacVicar told the audiences she was "nearly speechless" to receive the honour.

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