The prestigious Teaching Assistant of the Year title has been given to a woman who has "made a huge difference" at her Didcot school.
Christine Hussey, 46, beat off competition from 150 other people in teaching assistant jobs across England and Wales to receive the Teaching Personnel award, the Oxford Mail reports.
During her 14 years at the 269-pupil Willowcroft Community School, Ms Hussey has made the "most outstanding contribution to the teaching, learning and support of the children in her care", the judges said.
Commenting on receiving the award and her prize of an iPad, a £50 voucher for the school and a plaque, Mrs Hussey told the news provider: "I'm thrilled to get this award – I really enjoy my role which has changed a lot over the years."
Since starting as a teaching assistant, the mother-of-two has gone from sorting paint pots in the classroom to acting as a special needs teacher.
"Christine has made a huge difference to the children in her care," said her head teacher Jane Hemery, who nominated Mrs Hussey for the award.
"Without exception, every single child she works with makes progress. I cannot believe there is another teaching assistant in the land with such a strong work ethic."
Her pupils were similarly complimentary. Bethany Stokes, 10, said: "Mrs Hussey is nice and friendly and helps me with my reading and spelling - she's very helpful."
The contribution that teaching assistants make in the classroom should not be underestimated.
In one study, 75 per cent of infant school teachers rated classroom assistants as equal to, or more important than, class size in terms of the quality of teaching and learning, according to the Open University.
And children's minister Sarah Teather has previously praised the role of teaching assistants in helping those with special needs.
"Support staff can make a real difference to the achievement of pupils with SEN and disabilities," she said.
As creators of National Teaching Assistants’ Day, Teaching Personnel are delighted to illustrate the positive impact teaching assistants have on schools, teachers, parents and pupils: Teaching Assistants - A Valuable Contribution
Posted by Charlotte Michaels