Teaching awards 2001

Michael Duffy

Jane Dimock of King Edward VI School, Morpeth, Northumberland, a 13-18 comprehensive with 1,500 pupils

Regional winner

Excellence in special needs teaching, North-East and Cumbria

Citation:

"When she took on the role of special needs co-ordinator four years ago she really found her vocational niche. She grew from being a great teacher into an exceptional oneI she strives for an inclusive school and has won her colleagues over to a holistic policy for SEN children."

Background: Trained in home economics. Held HoD posts in Devon, Cornwall, Essex and North Humberside before taking a similar post at Morpeth in 1989.

Turning points?

"Three, really. The first, coming on a windsurfing holiday up here at Newton-by-the Sea and deciding that this was where I really wanted to live. Second, suddenly finding myself free to do just that. And third, deciding in 1995 to do a diploma in higher education in special needs - and getting the SEN job here to go with it."

Most proud of?:

"What children with real needs can achieve. But don't, please, call them 'special needs'. 'Special needs' sounds like something that's done to children. We call it learning support, and every student in the school has to be free to ask for it. I get a big thrill when children on the special needs register, even statemented children, stay on in the sixth form, tackle GNVQs, go on to A-level. Best of all, though, is when they come to a review meeting and tell us what they want to learn."

Greatest regrets?:

"None, personally, but I do regret the virtual disappearance of the county educational psychology services. We get 15 hours' ed psych support a year - for 1,500 students!" And if you win a national title?:

"I'd be thrilled. It's something that makes you feel good about yourself. No wonder kids like to be praised."

Jane Dimock was talking to Michael Duffy. The national finals of the Teaching Awards will be held in London on October 28

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Michael Duffy

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