A visually-impaired super-pupil who teaches his peers about blindness and plays the drums.
A school once deemed unsaveable which is now outstanding and holds lunchtime darts classes for pupils.
A primary school in a deprived area where teachers sometimes wash their student’s clothes and buy them Christmas presents.
A teacher who has run marathons in the Amazon and on Everest to raise over GBP85,000 for charity.
All have been crowned winners at The National Happiness Awards.
Shawn Sequeira, 11, from Surbiton in Surrey, won the Happiest Pupil Award, while Thistley Hough Academy in Stoke-on-Trent was voted the nation’s Happiest Secondary School and Flakefleet School in Fleetwood, Lancashire, won the Happiest Primary School accolade.
Shawn impressed judges with his positivity and optimism. In addition to being a star pupil, he also inspires adults and children with his can-do attitude and refuses to let his disability hold him back.
His teaching assistant, Angelika Wallner, said: “I am wowed by Shawn on a regular basis, usually because of the little things, such as his resilience and drive. He is certainly not defined by his disability, nor does he use it as an excuse not to have a go at something.”
Shawn enjoys playing football, drumming, cooking and dancing and was also responsible for creating and presenting a training sessions for children in his school about the challenges faced by visually impaired people.
Thistley Hough Academy in Stoke-on-Trent impressed judges after staff turned its fortunes around. The secondary school has been in special measures twice in its history, in 2006 and 2012 and came close to failure after being deemed ‘unsaveable’. It is now graded as Good with Outstanding features
School spokesperson Kerryanne Clancy said: “This renaissance has been underpinned by working with stakeholders who were prepared to support us when the going was tough.”
In addition to offering lunchtime darts classes for students, the school was also one of the first in the UK to offer all students a free breakfast in a government scheme launched in September. It also provides a visiting dentistry service for pupils. It is situated in Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor’s hometown, and when students were asked about their favourite hobbies, darts came out on top. In response the school introduced lunchtime darts matches, which also have the benefit of improving students’ maths skills.
Also at the awards, Flakefleet School in Fleetwood, Lancashire, won the Happiest Primary School accolade. In its nomination head teacher Dave McPartlin revealed the amazing lengths teachers there go to in support of pupils.
“The school is in a deprived area. Sadly, poverty is on the increase and over the last few months staff have had to help feed our children, wash their clothes and provide presents at birthdays and Christmas when necessary. This is all done with the utmost discretion whilst helping everyone keep their dignity as nobody should ever be too proud to feel unable to ask for help,” he said.
The school was recognised for the steps it has taken to ensure pupil and staff health and wellbeing. Thanks to the dedication of staff and the sense of community they have built, in the last two years the school’s reputation has grown and it is now almost full for the first time in over a decade. It has developed a reputation for creating hilarious viral videos and teachers are currently working on a song and video that they hope will get to number one by Christmas.
The other winner in the education section of the awards was action man Stephen Hill, deputy headteacher of St Joseph’s RC Junior School in Oldham. In addition to being a hugely popular teacher and coach for the school’s sports team, Stephen has also been instrumental in helping the school raise over GBP85,000 for various charities through challenges which have included trekking 150 miles through the Sahara Desert, running the Mount Everest and North Pole marathons and completing the Amazon Jungle Ultra of six marathons in five days. Most recently he trekked 230km through the Arctic wilderness.
The National Happiness Awards were held on Friday November 16 at MediaCity in Salford and were supported by Salford City Mayor, Paul Dennett.
The National Happiness Awards were launched three years ago by learning and development consultancy Laughology. They have developed a reputation as the nation’s brightest and boldest award scheme. Around 200 organisations and individuals entered this year.
National Happiness Awards founder and Laughology CEO Stephanie Davies said: “All the winners and finalists at this years awards are amazing and a real inspiration. They show that happiness is the vital core in a well-rounded and successful education system. Several of our finalists have commented that being recognised for happiness is as important, if not more important, than being recognised by Ofsted. And they all prove that happiness drives success.”
Each National Happiness Award category was judged by an independent panel which includes business experts, HR professionals, education specialists and psychologists.
The awards are sponsored by LACE Partners, Fit2Communicate, Simply Better Events and Crown House Publishing. The event supported Children in Need and the City Mayor of Salford’s homelessness charities.
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