Meet our 2018 HLTA of the Year regional winners

We're very proud to announce our regional winners of the 2018 Higher Level Teaching Assistant (HLTA) of the Year awards.

The winners in Best Practice Network's regions will now go to the national awards ceremony in London in November when the national winner will be chosen from finalists from across the country.

Winner of the South West region is Nathan Rickard of St Joseph's Catholic Primary School, Christchurch, Dorset.

Nathan Rickard of St Joseph's Catholic Primary School

Nathan was a house husband when he asked headteacher Louise Buxton if he could volunteer at the school. He was soon appointed as a class teaching assistant and then became deeply involved in running school sport, completing a number of sports development courses and eventually achieving HLTA status. "Nathan's HLTA status has given him the confidence to lead all our sports teams," Louise said. "He takes part in as many as 50 events each year, including tri-golf, mountain biking and water sports. Without Nathan the school would not be able to attend half of these due to the time arrangements can take and training required. Nathan ensures that as many children as possible have the experience of representing the school and wearing the sports team top, opening their eyes to the possibilities and the excitement of taking part in sport. Nathan is an example of how one person, through an eagerness to develop and train, can have a wide impact on a whole community."

East region winner is Karina Byrne of Bassingbourn Primary School in Cambridgeshire.

Karina Byrne of Bassingbourn Primary School in Cambridgeshire

Assistant headteacher Vicky Tyas said that Karina had an undeniable passion for teaching PE and keeping children active, organising all the sporting competitions and events within the school in addition to her role as a HLTA.

"Karina has formed many positive relationships with children and this has given them the confidence to try new things and be willing to be a part of a team and work with other children," she says. "She runs numerous clubs as extra provision for children and due to her hard work and teaching this year the school was award gold provision for overall physical education. Karina is more than worthy to receive the outstanding HLTA award for her outstanding teaching and provision within our school and we are extremely lucky and grateful to have her as a part of the team."

And the award in our West Midlands region goes to Angie Howells of Old Hall Community Special School in Walsall.

Nathan Rickard of St Joseph's Catholic Primary School

Headteacher Clive Padgett said: "Angie is a very effective HLTA. She leads activities across the school and has a huge impact on staff and students and their families. Angie runs a club for the most vulnerable, profound and multiply challenged children at the school and her fundraising efforts have made a big difference to the children."

Liam Donnison, managing director of Best Practice Network, says: "The award is aimed at teaching assistants who have gained HLTA status and who go above and beyond to demonstrate the vital role which HLTAs play within schools.

"All of the winners in our three regions had to meet a range of exacting criteria set by the judging panel, including demonstrating high aspirations for each pupil, a firm belief in pupils' abilities and a strong commitment to pupils' progress, as well as a continuing commitment to her own professional learning and development. The award recognises the extremely valuable role HLTAs like these play in children's learning and is very well deserved."

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