A Tyne Coast College special needs education expert has been honoured in a surprise presentation as part of a prestigious national celebration of teaching.
Mark Lambert received a Silver Teaching Award in the Award for Excellence in Special Needs Education category of the national Pearson Teaching Awards.
It was presented when he arrived for work at South Tyneside College, which is part of Tyne Coast College, by Councillor Iain Malcolm, Leader of South Tyneside Council.
Mark, 30, is manager of Special Education Needs and Disability (SEND) provision and Additional Learning Support (ALS).
He overseas work which supports dozens of learners aged 16 to 25 with autism and other learning difficulties in a department recognised as a regional leader.
Selected from thousands of nominations, Mark is one of just 65 national winners who have been celebrated this year with a Pearson award.
In October, he will join fellow Silver Award winners at the 20th UK Ceremony of the Pearson Teaching Awards in London.
There Mark will find out if he has won one of just 12 Gold Plato Awards, the UK’s ‘Oscars for Teachers’.
He said: “I am both shocked and overwhelmed at having my work recognised through such an award.
“I has come as a great surprise to me, and has been made possible by the incredible work of my great team.
“I'm very much looking forward to the award’s final in London in October.”
Alison Maynard, Principal of South Tyneside College, said Mark’s drive and passion for education, and his dedication to support students, was exceptional.
She added: “He has as infectious enthusiasm for his job and displays a whole-hearted committed to helping learners achieve their full potential.
“Mark leads his team by example and in a friendly and professional way which makes all staff feel valued and supported in their work.
“He enjoys great respect from learners and their families alike, testament to his ability to deal effectively with difficult situations in a calm and skilled way.
“He is thoroughly deserving of this award, and I wish him every success in the awards’ final later this year.”
Coun Malcolm said: “It was an absolute privilege to meet Mark and present him with his award.
“Providing every young person with the best start in life is a core priority for the council, so it is reassuring to know that the borough has such committed teachers like Mark .
“Mark’s achievements already make him an outstanding ambassador for South Tyneside.
“I wish him every success in the awards final later this year, where the exceptional education being provided in the borough will be showcased to a national audience.”
To achieve success, Mark and his team have implemented highly effective personalised study programmes and support.
These focus on either a student’s social and emotional skills, independence or employability, which help them build other essential life skills.
The aim is for students to gain learning that develops maximum opportunity to lead independent lives.
To achieve this, he has created a vibrant and focused learning environment which includes a teaching team committed to achieving the highest possible attainment for all learners.
They help students develop team work, money management skills and other essential skills, giving them the support required to transfer learnt social skills into real-life opportunities.
His department includes Interface, South Tyneside College’s specialist support centre for young people with autism.
It enjoys a 95.4 per cent success rate, with 91.4 per cent of students achieving in maths and English – and boasts a 100 per cent retention rate.
October’s ceremony, titled ‘Britain’s Classroom Heroes’, will be filmed and broadcast by the BBC as a showcase of excellence in education.
Previous award presenters have included former prime ministers David Cameron and Tony Blair, and actors Jenny Agutter, Alison Steadman and Sheila Hancock.
Rod Bristow, President of Pearson UK, said: "A huge congratulations to all those receiving a silver trophy.
“They should feel extremely proud of their achievements and join an inspirational group of Teaching Award winners from the past two decades. It’s an honour for Pearson to support these awards.
“It is vital to recognise and celebrate those in the teaching profession, for their commitment to education and for the impact they have on young people's lives.”