Trevor Perry, named the North's Teacher of the Year, was rewarded by a visit from David Blunkett. Elaine Williams reports
TREVOR Perry and his students are in the thick of improvising scenes from Shakespeare's The Tempest when Prospero's isle (the school hall stage) suffers the strangest of invasions.
A man with a guide dog is suddenly standing among them. "I am going to do a terrible thing and interrupt," he said. "I have come to congratulate your teacher because he's smashing."
"The money comes later," Mr Perry mouths as an aside, but he is clearly touched by this impromptu visit from David Blunkett, the Education Secretary.
When Mr Perry, head of drama at Bruntcliffe high school, in Morley, Leeds, was nominated by his head for the new Teacher of the Year award he never imagined that he would be the recipient of a ministerial call.
But Mr Blunkett is placing great store on the positive image these teaching "Oscars" will give to the profession and was keen to visit Mr Perry, a winner for the northern region, in his school.
The awards were launched last summer by Lord Puttnam, film maker and Government education adviser, with the aid of pound;3 million sponsorship from Lloyds TSB. Up to 600 teachers and classroom assistants were nominated by colleagues in 15 categories to be judged by independent panels. Ten regional award ceremonies will lead to a national final next month. The first of these, for the northern region, took place at the Royal Armories in Leeds last week.
So why Trevor Perry? His students are unequivocal: he caters for everybody; he understands their different needs; he believes in them; he makes them prove their worth; he gives them time. Alan Gerhold, Bruntcliffe's headteacher, said Mr Perry "is the kind of person I would have loved to teach my own children".
Trevor Perry is a one-school man. Aged 50, he has taught at Bruntcliffe for the past 17 years. Before that he worked in the civil engineering department of the British Waterways Board. He feels proud, he said, to be honoured by his own profession.
As a soccer scout for Oldham Athletic Football Club he knows the pro game. He said: "I know that footballers appreciate the 'Players' Player of the Year Award' above all else. It's the same for teachers."