Page last updated at 09:40 GMT, Monday, 26 October 2009

Special needs head wins UK award

Maxine Pittaway
Maxine Pittaway installed a 'can-do' attitude, colleagues said

A head teacher has won an award for promoting enterprise and raising qualification levels at the special needs school she runs.

Maxine Pittaway has introduced a charity shop, hair salon, car valet business and cafe at St Christopher's special school in Wrexham.

She gained the Teaching Awards UK prize for enterprise at a ceremony held in London's Theatre Royal on Sunday.

Mrs Pittaway has been head of the school for 14 years.

The number of pupils gaining qualifications has increased during her time there, with the number of GCSE passes quadrupling.

Colleagues said Mrs Pittaway always thought "out of the box" and had installed a can-do attitude.

I thought I needed to teach the children about retail at their level so they will have opportunities when they leave St Christopher's
Maxine Pittaway

"It's giving children learning opportunities and it's all just about doing things and not just being told how to do it," she said.

"[The school] is a bit like a shopping precinct in some ways. There's a hair and beauty salon and we deliver NVQs there.

"We have got a cafe with a Fairtrade shop and a car valeting business.

"We have got a retail shop and we're expanding that to sell second-hand furniture.

"We recycle bicycles which we get from the police, and sell flowers and plants through a market garden."

She said the ideas had come from "looking around at what's out there".

"[We see] what's going on in the high street and make opportunities for that we know are going to be real for children.

"In Wrexham, there's an awful lot of retail shops and we were having a new shopping precinct.

"I thought I needed to teach the children about retail at their level so they will have opportunities when they leave St Christopher's."

Over 150 award winners attended the ceremony at the Theatre Royal in London on Sunday, hosted by BBC presenters Christine Bleakley and Jeremy Vine.

Caroline Evans from Teaching Awards said: "What we do at the teaching awards is put a spotlight on people like Maxine who are so humble and self-effacing but are making an enormous difference to the lives of young people they work with."

The awards were set up in 1998 by Lord Puttnam.



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