Caring Claire wins top award

SEN support assistant Claire Shields is presented with the Percival Whitley Educational Trust outstanding support award by trust chairman Leyland Smith, at the Stepping Stones Pupil Referral Unit, Whitehill Academy, Illingworth.
SEN support assistant Claire Shields is presented with the Percival Whitley Educational Trust outstanding support award by trust chairman Leyland Smith, at the Stepping Stones Pupil Referral Unit, Whitehill Academy, Illingworth.

DEDICATED and caring school support assistant Claire Shields has been honoured for her commitment to her job.

She has been presented with the Special Children need Special People 2012 award from the Percival Whitley Educational Trust for her support of a young boy who was a pupil at Castlefields Infants School, Rastrick, before he moved to Whitehill Academy Pupil Referral Unit at Illingworth.

Claire, aged 35, moved to the unit with him and continued to provide extra support and help for the boy who was in local authority care.

Gemma Elliott, head-teacher at Castlefields, who nominated Claire for the award, said: “I am extremely proud of Claire.

“She has continuously shown her compassion and dedication throughout the last two years.

“Claire has gone above and beyond the realms of her duties as a support assistant which has had a positive impact on the lives of the children she has worked with. We feel very lucky to have her at Castlefields as she is committed to improving the lives of our children.”

Jane Fearnley, trustee and clerk, of the Percival Whitley Educational Trust, said the awards sought to recognise the achievements of ‘unsung heroes’.

“Claire is a very special individual who has shown she is prepared to go the extra mile for the child in her care.

“He has made so much progress academically and socially under Claire’s guidance.”

Claire, who lives at Field Lane, Rastrick, was presented with a certificate and cheque for £100 by Leyland Smith, trust chairman.

She said: “Working with children is my passion and I wake up smiling every day at the thought of going into school.

“I feel that I have been on a real journey with the boy I have been looking after and he has achieved so much in a short time.”

The mum-of-three started working at Castlefields Infants more than three years ago as a dinner lady before getting the opportunity to become a support assistant.

In September she will become a learning mentor at the school.

“I have been so lucky with the massive amount of support and encouragement I have received from the other staff.

“I started out at Castlefields as dinner lady and discovered I just loved helping children.”