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A special winner twice over

Meinir Rees has been receiving congratulatory phone calls and bunches of flowers from colleagues, parents and pupils she taught as long as eight years ago, following her success in last weekend's teaching awards.

She collected the Plato for the UK's special needs teacher of the year in a secondary school from Welsh singer Aled Jones, at a glamorous awards ceremony in London. She won the Welsh award in Cardiff last summer.

"It was wonderful, but quite nerve-racking," she said.

The special educational needs co-ordinator from Ysgol Gyfun Gymraeg Plasmawr, in Cardiff, started life as a technology teacher. She moved into special needs after her daughter suffered hearing problems as a child - and she realised there was no Welsh-speaker available to help her.

She is now one of the few teachers in the country able to communicate with hearing-impaired children in Welsh and English, but helps pupils with needs ranging from autism to dyslexia.

Headteacher Geraint Rees said: "We are all delighted for Meinir. She always acknowledges it takes an entire body of staff to deliver good special needs. She has inspired us to re-evaluate how we look at the whole issue of SEN."

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