Ysgol Y Deri teacher receives award for ‘life changing’ work

Source: The Glamorgan Gem

An Ysgol y Deri teacher is in the frame to win a prestigious national teaching award for her “life-changing” work helping pupils to communicate using assistive technology.

Lisa Rees-Renshaw, who works at the Penarth School, specialises in developing the use of eye gaze and switch technology with pupils who are unable to speak.

These are methods that allow the user to control a computerised voice system through subtle movements of the body.

Ms Rees-Renshaw’s work in this area has seen her recognised with a silver Pearson Teaching Award in the category of ‘Outstanding Use of Technology in Education’, supported by Google, and the award was presented to her by Vale Council cabinet member for learning and culture, Coun Bob Penrose, on ‘Thank a Teacher Day’ at the school recently.

After first being suggested by a pupil and his mother, Ms Rees-Renshaw was officially nominated by Ysgol Y Deri deputy head Josie McAllister. Judges then visited the school to meet pupils, staff and parents before making their decision.

She is one of only 56 people to win a silver award from thousands of nominees and will attend a celebratory tea at the House of Commons next month.

Ms Rees-Renshaw now goes on to the UK final of the Pearson Teaching Awards in London on October 22, where she stands a chance of being one of 11 gold award winners.

Ms Rees-Renshaw said: “It is an honour to be rewarded in such a way for the work I do, but I see it as a reflection of the dedication and commitment of a team of staff at our school.

“Together we are now able to deliver opportunities to an amazing group of pupils on a daily basis. Using an extensive range of technology, they are able to communicate, access education, develop independence and above all, have some control of their world.

“To hear pupils tell you that the technology they now have access to is “life changing” has been the biggest reward I could have had – it makes you realise how important your work is to the pupils and their families.

“I don’t class what I do as working at Ysgol Y Deri, it’s something I love to do! It is an amazing place to be, full of people who care!”

Ysgol y Deri headteacher Chris Britten said: “Lisa’s contribution to our school cannot be overstated. “She was singled out by Estyn for excellent practice and has made a truly life-changing difference to so many children’s lives.

“This recognition is thoroughly deserved and I’d like to take this opportunity to thank her on behalf of the pupils, staff and parents for the wonderful work she does day in day out.”

The Pearson Teaching Awards are an annual celebration of exceptional teachers, created to recognise the huge impact an inspirational teacher can have on the lives of the young people they teach.
Newly-appointed president of the Pearson Teaching Awards, the award winning children’s novelist, Michael Morpurgo said: “Becoming an inspirational teacher is a serious, admirable commitment. And memorable, outstanding teaching should be celebrated by educators, pupils, parents and throughout society.

“With these awards we’re taking the time to recognise the remarkable, often unappreciated efforts of fantastic teachers up and down the country.”

Rod Bristow, president of Pearson UK said: “Great teaching can have a huge impact on a child’s education so it’s vital for us to recognise and celebrate inspirational teachers, for their commitment to teaching and learning and for improving the life chances of the next generation.

“All those receiving a silver trophy should feel extremely proud of their achievement and I look forward to meeting them at the final ceremony later this year.”