Staff from a Chester school have been nominated for a School Superhero award as part of a national campaign by fintech Miconex to recognise staff working in schools.
Families can nominate their school superheroes who have made a positive contribution to their school community. One school superhero will receive a £50 Town and City Gift Card for their choice of over 60 schemes around the UK and Ireland, including the Chester Gift Card, with their school or class receiving a £250 cash prize.
Hannah Williams, year 6 teacher at Upton Heath C of E Primary School was nominated for an award by Jemma Lofthouse, whose daughter Niamh attends the school:
“Miss Williams first taught my daughter Niamh in year 2, after joining Upton Heath straight from university. For Miss Williams to be teaching Niamh again in year 6 is like coming full circle. Niamh isn’t a typical girly girl, she plays football for Upton JFC, and has always got on really well with Miss Williams. They have lots of shared interests and they just click.
“There’s something special about Miss Williams. She treats the children like people, as individuals. Miss Williams has done wonders for Niamh’s confidence, with her academic work and all through the pandemic. Like lots of children, Niamh struggled with motivation when learning at home, but Miss Williams was always on hand with praise and encouragement. Miss Williams is a very patient and nurturing teacher. Instead of saying something is wrong, she’ll say ‘how about if we did this?’, and that’s how she gets the best out of the children.
“With it being the last year of primary school for the year 6 class, Miss Williams has gone out of her way to make the experience as close as possible to a regular year 6 experience, which I really appreciate. The children in year 6 at Upton Heath normally go to Alton Towers, Min Y Don on a residential, take part in the Shakespeare Schools Festival and perform a school play. This year, they were supposed to go to Snowdonia which had to be cancelled but Upton Heath had something else arranged within hours, the Shakespeare Schools Festival took place in school instead of at the theatre and the school play will be recorded for parents to watch. .
“All three of my children have gone through Upton Heath and I can’t praise the school enough. Mr North, the headteacher, has been phenomenal. He joined Upton Heath as headteacher in January 2020 and almost straight away was into the pandemic. Mr North has done wonders for the school, he keeps parents in the loop and any issues are dealt with straight away. Upton Heath are very lucky to have him and Miss Williams. In fact, all of the staff at Upton Heath are fantastic, and they go out of their way to make the work engaging and accessible, and school a happy place to be.”
The Chester Gift Card can be spent with over 110 businesses in the city, including shops, cafés, attractions, restaurants, salons and more, and launched in November 2020 as part of Chester’s Business Improvement District’s (BID) battleplan to support high street shops from the effects of lockdown.
Carl Critchlow from Chester BID said: “We’ve seen local leadership in schools go above and beyond their responsibilities to keep kids engaged with education throughout the pandemic. It’s fantastic to take part in this school superheroes campaign and to facilitate the Chester Gift Card as a way to say thank you to that special someone at school.”
Another staff member at Upton Heath put forward for a School Superheroes award is Mrs Coulson, who was nominated by Jessica Klieve whose daughter Arya attends the school:
“We’re in the armed forces, and have to move a lot and came to Chester around 3 years ago when Arya was 2 years old. At that time, Arya wasn’t talking and we had all kinds of tests for her, like hearing, and were referred for speech therapy. The professionals eventually diagnosed Arya with ASD and sensory processing disorder and put her onto the list to see a paediatrician. We then fell into lockdown just as Arya was getting ready to start school at Upton Heath.
“Arya started school in September 2020 and Mrs Coulson became Arya’s one to one teaching assistant. This means that whilst the rest of the class are being taught, Mrs Coulson will teach Arya about the subject or topic in a way that Arya understands and based on what interests her.
“I was really worried about Arya starting school as she had no concept of danger, and would often just run. The difference in Arya since she started school with Mrs Coulson as her one to one has been huge. Arya has been discharged from speech therapy and is learning, thanks to Mrs Coulson, how to listen and understand not to run away but to sit down and talk instead. Arya’s condition means sometimes she’ll play and sometimes she won’t, but Arya has made some lovely friends who understand this.
“The pandemic means parents can’t go into school in the same way that they once could but Mrs Coulson comes out each morning and we have a chat about how Arya has been. Sometimes Arya doesn’t sleep well, and I’m able to pass this on to Mrs Coulson. Mrs Coulson also introduced a notebook and writes down how Arya has been in the day. Even though Arya is becoming more verbal, you can’t have the same kind of chat you might have after school with your child. The notebook helps me to understand what Arya has done during the day.
“Arya will go up to year 1 in September and Mrs Coulson will stay with Arya. Arya really listens to Mrs Coulson and wants to go to school even on weekends and holidays! Mrs Coulson has made such a difference to Arya’s life, and has made our life as a family so much easier. She loves school, loves her friends and I’m really grateful to Mrs Coulson for everything she has done.”
All school superheroes are eligible to be nominated for an award, including teachers, teaching assistants, catering/lunchtime staff, administration teams, caretakers, coaches and volunteers. Families can nominate a school superhero up to 31st August 2021 by visiting https://townandcitygiftcards.com/schoolsuperhero
Colin Munro is the managing director of Miconex and said: “The School Superheroes campaign is designed to recognise teachers like Miss Williams, teaching assistants like Mrs Coulson and other school staff who are positively impacting on children’s and families lives. Nominations are still coming in, and it is going to be incredibly difficult to choose a winner from all of the fantastic entries we’ve received. We look forward to announcing our winning School Superhero on the 3rd September.”
Published 9th July 2021