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Tuesday, 12 October, 1999, 12:18 GMT 13:18 UK
The 1999 Teaching Awards - the first year of an award scheme to honour the best teachers in England - has held its inaugural presentation ceremony.
After a series of regional awards, the national honours were presented in 14 categories, including a lifetime's achievement award - won by a primary school teacher from Liverpool - and an award for the best primary school teacher, presented by the prime minister.
Here are the winners and some of the reasons why they have been judged to be among the best in their profession.
She has dedicated 35 years to teaching, and says the children keep her young. Praised for her enthusiasm, the judges commended her motivating influence and how she encourages parents to participate in their children's education.
"We have a class act in Maureen Davies, not only in the way children learn from her, but from her enthusiasm that makes children work to the best of their ability. She sets the tone right at the beginning of their school careers" says headteacher Dennis Hardiman. "She's probably the best teacher I've ever met."
Parents and colleagues paid tribute to her patience and caring attitude, particularly with children who are shy or struggling in their first efforts at school.
Ms Machell has been praised for challenging the children in her care and giving them the courage and determination to do and achieve their best.
She is straightforward with no complications and a positive attitude. She is a gifted teacher and her commitment and dedication to the children and the staff of the school motivates everyone to work together and to succeed.
One of her pupils says of her, "she stays up late and gets up early in the morning to make our day special. She makes our classroom beautiful. School is fun with her".
She regards every child as unique, with their own learning style, and adapts her teaching to match the needs of each individual.
In the words of a colleague, "there is no-one I have ever met, whether in the first flush of excitement as a new teacher or with the wisdom that comes with experience, who demonstrates greater enthusiasm for the profession.
And as a tutor she is approachable, supportive and understanding. As one colleague puts it: "it would be difficult to count the number of young teachers she has mentored over the years.
"All of them owe her a real debt of gratitude for the hours she has spent with them to build a rich repertoire of techniques and essential classroom management skills."
The Camelot Award for Working with Parents and the Community in a Primary School goes to Barbara Beels, of Wingate Nursery School, in Wingate, County Durham.
Headteacher Ms Beels has been praised by parents for building up a partnership with parents and the community, which they say is based on friendship, warmth and mutual respect.
She encourages parents and grandparents to play an active role in the school's efforts for all children to reach their full potential.
In 1992, she came up with the idea of a developing a family centre next to the school, which is opening this month.
Mr Jennings has been praised for his success in raising achievement in an inner city school and in involving the families of pupils and the wider community.
Hundreds of young and older people pour into his family computer sessions and after-school activities, which have been created as part of Mr Jennings's belief in a family approach to education. As part of this philosophy, next year the school will open a community nursery for 60 children.
She has been a headteacher for 18 years, and is described by colleagues and parents as "the soul of our community". Her leadership has been praised for being both inspirational and dynamic, and she provides constant support to both parents and pupils.
Parents say she "constantly pushes out the boundaries in the best interests of the children, and "when she speaks, everyone listens, she commands the respect of everyone in the community".
According to the judges, since her appointment in 1988 she has had a very considerable impact on raising standards in the school. This headteacher leads by example, bringing the best out in everyone.
The school governors believe that the outstanding quality of her leadership has permeated the whole school and all that is done in it.
The quality of learning has improved significantly with the introduction of a broad and balanced curriculum with specialist science, art and technology provision. In the last two years she has negotiated funding for new buildings, in particular a block for the post-16 unit.
Colleagues comment on her excellent communication skills and consistent approach. She inspires respect from everyone and as headteacher always seems able to get the balance right.
According to her headteacher: "She is a teacher with exceptional skills in the planning and execution of her work and has an ability to offer a creative and stimulating programme for our children".
One recent achievement was the staging of an outstanding outdoor production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, which has been credited with stretching the literacy and creative skills of her pupils.
In the words of a parent: "She is one of those rare teachers who will be remembered by the children she's taught long after they have left her capable hands. Our school is very fortunate indeed".
The school has an excellent reputation for special needs work and has recently won the Quality Mark from the Basic Skills Agency, which according to the school's chair of governors can be almost entirely credited to the outstanding work of this teacher over the last 22 years.
She leads a very large Learning Support Department and liases with teachers on all other areas of the curriculum in order to help cater for each student's individual needs.
She has a very special way of building a rapport with the families of her students. In the words of one parent, she is "a true champion for special needs education" who "has a special gift of caring for, supporting and encouraging all her students".
Not only is she a good listener who is empathetic to the needs and insecurities of others, but also a strong and inspiring leader who can successfully enthuse or at times calm those around her.
Not only an outstanding teacher; she has become a friend to many of the parents of pupils in her challenging group. Her class consists of seven autistic children, aged from from 10 to 14, but with the emotional and mental age of two years old.
These children have the most profound and challenging needs, however she can always find something that they can do well, no matter how small that may be. She manages to pre-empt problems, offer solutions and make plans to ensure that students and their families are prepared for the enormity of the relentless challenges that face them both in the short and long term.
During the last two years she has set up a successful support group for the parents of autistic children. A parent told us "It is difficult to define exactly how special she is. Her impact on my daughter's life and development as an individual, and on our family as a whole, has been overwhelming.
"I can think of nobody who deserves recognition for hard work and dedication more. She is a kind and decent person who helps others immeasurably".
In the last two years, Mr Waugh's achievements include getting grade one in the school's Ofsted inspection, setting up an anti-bullying group, and finding time to complete the London Marathon.
Pupils, parents and staff speak of him with enormous respect and warmth.
The Guardian Award for the Most Creative Use of ICT in a Primary School goes to Diana Sperry, of Moat Farm Junior School in Oldbury.
She has been instrumental in establishing her school as a centre of excellence, achieving national recognition for her work in ICT.
Staff in the school were unanimous in their support for the nomination, as they fully share her goal of achieving success in ICT for all children.
The jury had no doubts that the work undertaken with these pupils would enhance their ability to excel in the new millennium.
Elizabeth Seddon teaches in a language department which provides specialist education for children with speech and language difficulties.
The judges found that children who might be isolated by their language difficulties were helped by their teacher to ngage successfully with their peers, not just in lessons, but during play times and outside school.
The judges said that "she possesses the highest qualities of a professional educator - epitomising life-long learning. Not only does she go the extra mile, but she inspires her colleagues to do the same".
The winner of this award is highly respected for using his ICT (information and communications technology) skills to create an innovative and exciting school environment.
He has been at the forefront of developing new and innovative courses in ICT and is cited as having been inspirational with newly-appointed staff and has enhanced the role of many others within the school situation, improving their teaching so that they feel pride in their contribution in the school.
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