Sheffield teacher wins top award
A Sheffield teacher who speaks out against the unfairness and exclusion in society of her students has won a national award.
Sally Turner-Clarke teaches courses in life skills and crafts to people with learning difficulties and disabilities and has won the Student Support Category Award at the annual WEA Awards 2021.
The awards celebrate students and tutors who have transformed their lives and the lives of others through lifelong learning.
Teachers and students were shortlisted in nine categories after a record-breaking number of entries were submitted by students, colleagues and tutors.
A spokesperson for the awards said that during Sally’s lessons, students also built confidence and had fun at the same time.
The majority of the students live independently, which has been particularly challenging for them during the pandemic. Sally immediately volunteered to pilot a return to face-to-face teaching in autumn 2020, recognising the impact it would have on well-being.
Having learning difficulties and disabilities, her students lacked the technology and skills to do online learning so she delivered individual learning packs that are designed round their needs.
Lockdown caused a lot of stress, anxiety and lack of confidence. Along with her colleagues, Sally did what she could to keep life as normal as possible, but in essence, some of her learners never saw anyone else from one day to the next. It was really, really sad and meant that their course was really valuable to them.
Sally said: “They are people who society has given up on. That can’t be right, can it? I’m fighting hard to make sure people with learning difficulties and disabilities are given the resources they so desperately need.”
Sally’s mother, now retired, was originally tutoring these students making this experience even more personal for Sally. Sally was keen, as soon as it was deemed safe, to get straight back to in-person learning. PPE was gathered, policies and procedures put in place ready to go ahead as soon as it was safe to do so.
Sally continued: “Winning this award matters because it will help draw attention to the need to protect resources for LDD students, which could further isolate these forgotten people in society.”