The 2020-21 academic year has been a year like no other. As we rode into 2021, we thought that the worst of the pandemic was behind us, little did we know that we would once again face extensive school closures, more lockdowns and even more home learning!

Through it all, our staff across the NCEA Trust have been absolutely incredible. They have been a shoulder to cry on (from a safe distance!) for our pupils, they have been a lifeline for our pupils and their families in isolation and have rallied for our communities – going above and beyond the call of duty.

In a very short space of time, our teachers became digital experts, delivering almost all of their lessons remotely while still teaching the children of key workers in-school; our Teaching Assistants supported this process and made daily check-in calls to ensure our pupils’ wellbeing; our cleaners put in extra hours here, there and everywhere to ensure the cleanliness of our schools and campuses; our kitchen staff put up food parcels for families who were shielding and our Central Services teams kept the show on the road for everyone from behind the scenes.

While we think that every single person who works for the Trust has done an amazing job and deserves all of the praise we can give them, we put a call out to staff to see if there were any true superheroes who needed an additional pat on the back for their hard work this year, and here they are, in no particular order, our 2020-21 #TrustHeroes.

Heather Forster – Bishop’s Grace Darling Campus
“Always a fantastic support to both pupils and staff alike. She always thinks of the pupils’ well-being and always puts them first. She will take on a task without hesitation and has been utterly flexible throughout lockdown in her multiple roles!”

Emma Wardle – Duke’s Secondary School
“Constantly going above and beyond for staff and pupils. Has done loads through lockdown to support staff, and always thinking of ways to support the students with online learning.”

Anne Thompson – Castle School
“Anne works tremendously hard in Castle School in so many ways, but particularly in the past year she has done a wonderful job of managing the increased traffic on our social media pages and website. Her aim at all times is to promote the learning and skill development of our children at home and in school.”

The Teaching Assistants and Cover Supervisors – Duke’s Secondary School
“This group of staff have been phenomenal during this lockdown. They have worked with our key worker and vulnerable students virtually every day. They have created a great atmosphere for the students to work in, and have gone above and beyond in the tasks that they have completed with the students. It has been a pleasure to watch them work each day.”

Roger Pearson – Central Services (IT)
“People may think that when the school is not fully open it is quieter for the Central Services teams but it is the opposite, the workload has increased and there are days when the phone just doesn’t stop and I think Roger and his team have continued to support in very challenging times.”

Emma Kerr – Bishop’s Thomas Bewick Campus
“Emma has been invaluable during lockdown, being moved temporaily to our campus to cover for a sheilding member of staff. She has gone above and beyond and has supported staff, children and parents during lockdown and full reopening. She has been a fantastic support.”

Laura Ritson – Warkworth Primary School
“Where Laura finds her energy, I do not know! Throughout this year, Laura has organised endless initiatives for her pupils and their families to support their mental health and wellbeing, she has rallied to support the local community in Warkworth, she has project managed the build of an entirely new early years provision in the school grounds, dealt with a terrible act of vandalism against the school’s Forest School area and turned it into an incredible community enterprise project, all the while running her school for key worker children and remotely at the same time. She’s done an amazing job, given it was also her first year as part of NCEAT. Well done Laura!”

Lyndsey Stanwix – Castle School
“Lyndsey is our Wellbeing Champion and has worked really hard during Lockdown to keep everyone smiling. From organising online quizzes, goodie bags, to an entertaining dance challenge, she really has made us all feel cared for (and given us a good giggle) with her enterprising ways.”

Gemma Latimer – Bishop’s Josephine Butler Campus
“Gemma has been the voice of calm and reason when answering the phone and dealing with enquiries on our front desk. Nothing is too much trouble for her and she approaches everything with patience, politeness and humour. She radiates positivity and kindness.”

Sandra Brown – Central Services (Compliance and Safeguarding)
“Sandra is always at the end of the phone and is the voice of reason and the font of all knowledge with so many things. We are grateful to have her to call on when needed.”

Joanne Ramshaw – Bishop’s Josephine Butler Campus
“Joanne is one of the most humble, supportive members of staff at Bishop’s. In her role at JBP she supports the well being of staff and pupils, while also successfully covering lessons across the whole school. She created our ‘Bee Happy’ wall of treats in our staffroom and regularly leaves little ‘pay it forward’ treats for staff and children. As the inspiration behind and member of the TA support Team, Joanne works hard to help TAs on other campuses too. Joanne cares deeply about the well being and education of children in Ashington and quietly gets on with her job but makes the biggest impact. Thank you from us all at JBP Joanne.”

Cath Maley – Castle School
“Cath has ensured that all bathrooms have enough wet wipes, that all classrooms have sanitising wipes, gloves & aprons are kept well stocked.”

Pamela Oakley – Duke’s Secondary School
“Pam always goes above and beyond sharing her artistic talents around school. She spends so much time sourcing things for the learners to use and spends lots of her free time on these. At the minute she is working on making a puppet theatre with our Nurture Lunch club learners and they are loving it. The learners couldn’t take part in these kinds of activities at lunch club if it wasn’t for Pam! She also helps other departments with displays.”

Lucy Cook and Mike Banks – Castle School
“Lucy and Mike do a fantastic job in and around Castle School and are always around if you have a question or needing help. They made a great team during the ‘in school’ lateral flow testing. They made sure it ran smoothly and efficiently. They made staff feel at ease and were very knowledgeable in what was a very trying time. A big thank you to them both!”

Clare Marson – Bishop’s Josephine Butler Campus
“She is working so hard in the JBP garden, it looks amazing. She has so many little projects going on and the children are proud of all of the plants they have been growing this year. She has been making waterproof books and pictures to help the children outside. She is also always on the lookout to repurpose things for the outdoor area and the Year 1s to play with. She does everything with the children in mind. She is managing a huge outdoor space without the help of Pat, who retired, has the challenge of providing 100s of bagels most mornings, supporting SEN children and she always supports her colleagues as well. She volunteers at weekends and holidays to look after the animals as well as running Beavers in the community, looking after her 3 boys and a very old dog!”