Aylsham woman wins Teacher of the Year award

Grace Burton, 32, winner of the 2021 North Norfolk News Teacher of the Year award

Grace Burton, 32, winner of the 2021 North Norfolk News Teacher of the Year award, with her sons Vinnie, 6, and Sonny, 9. - Credit: Daniel Hickey

She might have only one year's experience under her belt - but an Aylsham woman has been chosen as the first ever winner of the North Norfolk News Teacher of the Year award.

Grace Burton, 32, works at Woodfields School, on the outskirts of Sheringham, which teaches children with special needs.

She qualified as a teacher only in January and started work in September.

Sheringham Woodfields Special School will see 20 new places for children with complex needs when new

Sheringham Woodfields Special School. - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2019

"I'm completely shocked, it's a really nice surprise," she said on learning of the award.

As for her job, she said: "I love it, it's amazing, it's a wonderful school. I've always wanted to work with children with special needs."

She said that the most rewarding and meaningful parts of her work were the smallest things.

"With the children I work with, you might try for months and months for them to write their name, or even a small bit of communication, and when that happens they're the best moments," she said.

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"It's the smallest things that mean the most to the families.

"It's rewarding when you can see a child achieve something."

Grace Burton, 32, teaches at Woodfields School in Sheringham.

Grace Burton, 32, teaches at Woodfields School in Sheringham. - Credit: Daniel Hickey

Ms Burton studied health and social care and psychology at Paston College in 2005-2006.

She started working at the school in 2008 as a teaching assistant and has gradually worked her way up. She studied a diploma in education and training and received her qualification in January.

"It was my godmother who got me the job in the holiday camps at the school and I loved it there," she said.

"I think over the years I thought I could teach and I've started now, but it was a long old slog studying. It was hard work but it was what I wanted."

She said the most important thing for a teacher was to have a good relationship with their students.

"You have to have a good relationship to be able improve any knowledge. The subjects you do well in you get on well with the teacher," she said.

"If you have a good relationship with your teacher, you're more likely to listen to what they're saying." 

James Stanbrook, the school's headteacher, said: "We are lucky at Woodfields school to have such a brilliant and hard-working group of teachers and staff.

"In particular their response to Covid-19 in maintaining learning for pupils as well as supporting them and their families has been amazing.

"Grace winning this award is a wonderful achievement and recognises her skills and hard work as part of this outstanding team of staff."

In July, pupils from Woodfields School took part in a project placing mementoes into a time capsule buried underneath The Reef Leisure centre. They wrote, drew and took photos of their favourite activities both in school and out-and-about in the local area.