Top of the class! National award for inspirational Antrim teacher

SELECTED from thousands of nominations, Catherine Magee has been honoured as one of 102 Pearson National Teaching Silver Award winners across the country.

The St Comgall’s teacher was honoured with a Silver Award in The Award for Teacher of the Year in a Primary School for their outstanding commitment to changing the lives of the children they work with every day.

Catherine relishes the use of new and emerging technology to promote all areas of the curriculum and encourages her children to extend their learning experience beyond their desk.

As the Antrim school’s ‘Google Guru’, Catherine led children, staff and parents comfortably into the world of remote learning and teaching during the pandemic.

She also mentors teachers inside and out of school, and is the first and sole ‘Renaissance Ambassador for Northern Ireland’, rolling out innovative teaching and learning ideas across the UK to promote improved literacy and numeracy experiences for children.

Jim Matthews, Principal of St Comgall’s, said they were thrilled by the national recognition.

“As a school family we are all thrilled and proud of Catherine's achievement!” he said.

“She is a truly outstanding practitioner and well-deserved recipient of such a prestigious accolade within our profession.

“Catherine is dedicated, innovative and above all caring - for children, families and staff. We really look forward to celebrating this top award with her!' 

Catherine Magee has now been shortlisted to win one of just 15 Gold Awards later in the year, in a programme which will be broadcast on the BBC.

This is a great opportunity to celebrate the exceptional school staff who have worked wonders during an incredibly challenging time for educators across the country. 

The Silver Award winners are being honoured as part of the wider celebrations for ‘Thank a Teacher Day’, a national campaign to honour and recognise school staff for their incredible work.

The celebrations follow new data which shows how the previous year’s lockdowns have significantly changed how families across the country view the role of teachers. 

New research from Parentkind and The Teaching Awards Trust highlights that three in four parents and carers have a new found respect for the teaching profession following their experiences of remote learning during lockdown. Indeed, three quarters of survey respondents agreed or strongly agreed that they had more respect for the work that teachers do following their family’s experiences of remote learning.

The last year has seen a wealth of stories of teachers making care visits to vulnerable families, coming up with innovative ways of remote teaching, keeping their pupils settled by regularly checking in and even using their school sites for COVID-19 testing when classes did return to school. And most agree that there has never been a better time to appreciate them and the vital work they do.

The Pearson National Teaching Awards is an annual celebration of excellence in education, founded in 1998 by Lord Puttnam to recognise the life-changing impact an inspirational teacher can have on the lives of the young people they work with. This year marks its 22nd year of celebrating, award-winning teachers, teaching assistants, head teachers and lecturers across the UK 

Sir Michael Morpurgo, celebrated author and former Children’s Laureate, and President of the Teaching Awards Trust, said it was right to celebrate the teachers who really are top of the class.

“Thank a Teacher Day gives us all a chance -  children, families, all of us - to pay tribute to those wonderful educators who change more lives than they will ever know.

“Today we say thank you to the teachers who have helped our young people navigate these most difficult of times, and who will continue to inspire countless young minds over the coming years.”

Sadie Besley, Senior Director of Operations at Randstad Education, heartily agrees - and singled the local woman out for praise.

“After the incredible challenges of the last year we have seen so many teachers go above and beyond to support their pupils.

“In an incredibly crowded field, Catherine stands out as a truly superb teacher who is making such a difference to the lives of their pupils.

“At Randstad we are so pleased to support these Awards to recognise the incredible work that teachers do in these most difficult of times. Schools deserve so much praise, and I am delighted that we can take this day to honour the hard work of every educator.”

This was echoed by Sharon Hague, Senior Vice President of Schools at Pearson UK. 

“After a year like no other we want to take today to say thank you to all the incredible school staff who have kept children and young people learning despite unprecedented challenges.

“We hope the celebrations today show how much you are appreciated, and that your hard work has not gone unnoticed nor unrecognised.” 

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