WHEN growing up, education is vital to shaping your life and inspiring your future.

Throughout the school journey, friends come and go, but there is another bond that is made along the way, and that is with teachers.

Teachers play a vital role in moulding the next generation of youth, through what can be some of the toughest times in their young lives.

They are often unsung heroes, however, times come when their hard work is recognised.

The ninth annual Essex Teaching Awards have taken place which provided an opportunity to celebrate the outstanding educators and support staff working in a variety of education sectors.

The awards brought to light the outstanding teachers from primary, secondary, special, and early years settings across Essex, plenty of which came from across the Colchester area.

Ellie Batten, from St Helena School, won the award for the New Teacher of the Year.

Ellie is described as an amazing Drama and English teacher, and has strong relationships with all her students, along with exemplary classroom management.

Ellie has also trained to become a Reading to Learn specialist reading tutor and has worked with small groups of Year 7 and 8 students after school every week, focusing on encouraging a love of reading to learn through reading aloud, vocabulary games and practising the key reading skills. 

The two highly commended teachers recognised for the award were Imogen Louise Brown, from the Colne Community School and College in Brightlingsea, and Tyler Russell-Read, at Great Clacton Church of England Junior School.

In the Teacher of the Year in a Secondary School award, Georgia Kelly, from the Colchester Academy, and Louise Wiley from St Helena School, were both highly commended.

Two more highly commended teachers came in the teacher of the year in a Special School category, Rebecca Sullivan from Market Field School in Colchester, and Ryan Bruce from Shorefields School in Clacton.

Headteacher of St Andrews Primary Dianne Fawcett was highly commended for the Headteacher of the year in a Primary or Special School award.

Similarly, two more highly commended headteachers were recognised in the secondary school category, these being Jenny Betts from the Colchester Academy, alongside Fiona Pierson, from St Helena School.

St Helena School continued its successes with two coming for non-teaching staff member of the year.

Winning the award was Lorraine Edwards, who is Home School Liaison and is a senior safeguarding officer in the school.

During and post lockdown, she continues to support vulnerable students and their families, offering mental health support, motivating students to engage in their education and problem solving to ensure the basics of food, warmth and safety.

Joanne Katherine Bartholomew, also from St Helena School, was highly commended, alongside Clare Burton from the Colne Community School and College.

Two more highly commended awards came in the Teaching Assistant of the Year, for Susan Went from St Helena School, and for the Team of the Year Award, where The Site Team at Stanway School were recognised.

Finally, lifetime achievement awards were handed out to Kate Victoria Poynter from the Colne Community School and College, along with Sharon Silver and Catherine Murphy, both from Colchester Academy.

Education boss at Essex County Council Tony Ball said: “I’m sure we can all remember a teacher, member of school staff, or an early year’s staff member who made a difference to our lives in some way.

“The Essex Teaching Awards give us the opportunity to highlight and celebrate the positive impact these individuals have on the lives of children and young people across Essex.

“I would like to congratulate everyone that won an award, was highly commended or nominated this year.”