CHILDREN cheered and chanted to welcome back their teacher who walked to all 18 special educational needs schools in Essex.

Kierran Pearce, a teacher at Market Field School in Elmstead Market, has always been an advocate for helping children who need extra support.

His biggest challenge yet was walking to 18 special educational needs schools - the equivalent of a marathon a day for five days.

Market Field School sent a group of children every day to join in the walk to support Kierran.

He finished the challenge on Friday and was greeted by the whole school.

Kierran said: “It’s the toughest thing I have ever done by a long way but each school kept us going.

“If it wasn’t for the kids I wouldn’t be able to do it. The biggest challenge was the physical side.

“The mental side was fine as the kids kept me going.”

He completed the walk with friend Terry Wade, both carrying 10kg on their backs every day. He said it was incomparable to what the children face daily.

He said: “The children face challenges every day because of perceptions, it’s their abilities that need to be focussed on.”

It was also a philosophical journey for Kierran who has come a long way since he was a teenager. He was excluded from school aged 15 with no prospect of passing any exams.

His troubled school years were a dark place but since working at Market Field he developed the determination to change the futures of his pupils.

He said: “This walk was about the children, I have come far but these children have faced bigger challenges.”

Kierran started at Harlow Fields before covering Loughton, Chigwell, Brentwood, Basildon, Benfleet, Wickford, Billericay, Chelmsford, Witham, Braintree, Colchester, Langham, Clacton and Elmstead Market.

Market Field headteacher Gary Smith said: “I’m immensely proud but it has significance when you look at how he has turned his life around.

“He always puts people first and helps others. He’s a likeable guy and he doesn’t have to work at that - it’s genuine.”