‘For a child to have a teacher like you is so important’ – Welsh primary teacher honoured for pandemic work

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A ‘life-changing’ primary school teacher has been honoured for his work with pupils during lockdown.

Neil Topping, 55, who teaches at Caegarw Primary School in Mountain Ash, received the UK lockdown hero award for learner and community support at the annual Pearson National Teaching Awards which celebrate excellence in education across the UK.

Read more:Everything we know about what schools will look like next term

Judges praised him for keeping young learners connected online while remote learning as well as providing peer support and help improve maths skills.

President of the awards, War Horse author Michael Morpurgo, wrote him a handwritten letter which read: “The work you do, day in day out, is life-enhancing, life-changing. For a child to have a great teacher like you is so important – you open doors and shine a light.”

Mr Topping said he had tried to keep children connected and learning during lockdown school closures.

“Connecting with the children is what teaching is all about and that is what I was keen to maintain throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, which has affected all of our lives. As well as helping improve the mathematics skills of our young learners, I also wanted them to have someone to talk to, either during online classes with their friends and classmates or on a one-to-one basis.

“To win this award is such a huge honour and I thank those people who nominated me.”

Mr Topping, who lives in Tonteg, began his teaching career in 1998 at Ton Pentre Primary School, where he remained for 13 years before moving on to Caradog Parimary School in Aberdare, where he taught for six years before joining Caegarw Primary School in 2018.

Handing him a bronze award, judges said he had helped children to “reach their full potential during exceptional circumstances”.

Caegarw Primary headteacher Huw Griffiths said Mr Topping is an asset to the school and local community.

“He is a dedicated and committed practitioner and we are blessed to have such a wonderful teacher at our school. His work during the lockdown period was exemplary and ensured that the children were able to continue their learning to the highest possible standards. On behalf of the governors, staff, parents and pupils. I would like to thank him for his wonderful work at our school”.

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