teaching award

A teaching assistant from the Salford Quays-based Oakwood Sixth Form Academy has won a Silver Award for Teaching Assistant of the Year.

Carla Horton, from Eccles, has been recognised in the Pearson National Teacher of the Year Award for her inspiring work in setting up a pioneering charity shop in the Quayside  centre which is run by pupils who have special educational needs and disabilities.

The thriving store involves students engaging directly with the community – helping them to gain both practical skills and confidence while studying for retail qualifications to prepare them for life beyond the classroom. Thanks to this unique scheme, a number of young people from Oakwood Sixth Form Academy have been successful in securing employment in retail as well as gaining invaluable life skills.

The Ceremonial Mayor of Salford Tanya Burch, along with representatives from the Pearson National Teacher of the Year Award, Quayside, MediaCity as well as all the pupils and staff from Oakwood Academy surprised Carla with the accolade.

Carla said: “This is an initiative really close to my heart. It’s difficult for some students to get work experience, and it’s even harder for our students because they’ve got special needs. The students have been amazing – learning about customer service, the health and safety aspects, the retail selling process, and balancing money.

“It’s just lovely that they can put into practice what they’ve been learning. It’s all about communicating with people and understanding customer services. We really take the time to find their talents, tap into their confidence while providing practical skills for when they’re in the outside world.”

Carla is one of 102 teachers, lecturers, leaders, support staff and institutions named as silver winners in this year’s awards. They will now be in the running for the coveted Gold Award, which will be announced at a prestigious awards ceremony later in the year.

Stephen Wild, MediaCity managing director, added: “The charity shop initiative started as a six-week project and we quickly realised what a life-changing experience it is for the youngsters involved.

“Two years on we’ve been truly inspired by what Carla and the pupils have achieved and we’re delighted that Carla’s efforts have been recognised nationally.”

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