A PARALYMPIAN student battling a life-limiting illness has been honoured as an inspiration in this year’s Education Awards.

Kieran Maxwell, of Darlington College, was named as inspirational college student of the year at The Northern Echo awards, held this morning in Darlington’s Council Chamber.

  • A supplement highlighting all the winners will appear in The Northern Echo on Tuesday, March 21

Consett Stanley Advertiser:

WINNER: Winner of the Further Education Student of the Year Award, Kieran Maxwell of Darlington College with Gemma Manson of Newcastle Building Society and Chris Lloyd of The Northern Echo. Picture: CHRIS BOOTH

Host Chris Lloyd, The Northern Echo's chief features writer, said: “Kieran is currently facing his biggest battle of all with terminal cancer – it is a battle he has fought so inspirationally that the entire village of Heighington brought Christmas forward by a week or so to make sure he saw it. And, of course, he did.”

Heroes of education from across the region were commended at the Newcastle Building Society-sponsored awards.

Mr Lloyd said: “We hold these awards to celebrate the many excellent, brilliant things that go on on a daily basis in our schools and colleges.

“We hope that they shine a light on the positives that are to be found in our classrooms and we hope that in a little way they acknowledge those who help create those positives.”

The winners were:

  • The Active Community Award: MADD - The Music, Art, Drama and Dance Group at St John’s School in Bishop Auckland which produces a range of performances to which all the community are invited.
  • The Healthy Living Award: Greenland Community Primary School of South Moor, Stanley, which provides a healthy Breakfast Club allied with Movement on a Morning, a gentle exercise group. Attendance has since increased, lateness reduced and overall behaviour has improved.
  • Sporting Achievement: Reid Street Primary School, of Darlington, which does not have a field but runs sporting clubs throughout the day including football, cricket, yoga, blind football and exercise. Its teams last year won the Darlington Primary Football League, the Longfield Cup and the cricket team won the Darlington Year 6 Kwik Cricket tournament, going forward to the county finals where they came fourth.
  • Innovation of the Year: Wolsingham School, which in January became the first in the country to have its own police cadet force, running along the existing combined forces cadet contingent, which has 50 cadets overseen by a sergeant major from the sixth form as well as a former member of the armed forces. There will be 30 police cadets focusing on physical fitness, law and order, and serving the local community.
  • Apprentice of the Year: Harry Bowes, Physical Education Apprentice at Reid Street Primary School in Darlington. Harry has helped with many sporting competitions in tennis, athletics, football, rugby and table tennis.
  • School Support Staff Member of the Year Award: Melanie Stand of Queen Elizabeth Sixth Form in Darlington, who was nominated twice for her discussion groups where teenagers can wind down. She also took part in a skydive with a student she was helping who wanted to raise awareness of the condition the student’s father had died from. She was “terrified”, but jumped out of the plane and raised hundreds of pounds.
  • Inspirational Teacher of the Year: Caroline Harland of Staindrop Primary School, whose lessons were said to have “a magical quality”. As part of a project to make their own fairy gardens, the pupils set up a CCTV camera in the classroom to capture any fairy activity. Once the children had left for the day, Caroline took photographs of their fairy gardens and combined them with an augmented reality app to make fairies appear to fly in and out of the children’s gardens. The children viewed the CCTV footage the next day and the squeals of delight could be heard throughout the school.
  • Inspirational Pupil of the Year: Matthew Bradley of St John’s School and Sixth Form College, Bishop Auckland. Matthew is a top swimmer, captaining the County Durham team at the National Championships and in 2016 he won the under 19 national school biathlon title at Crystal Palace – he is the fastest combined runner and swimmer of his age. He has now become an engineering apprentice after leading a group of students who produced a film about the development of the railways that was shown at the Locomotion museum in Shildon.
  • Headteacher of the Year: Jayne Smith of Ox Close Nursery School, Spennymoor, who has created facilities such as an outdoor play area, wildlife area, nursery garden with chickens in it, and half-day weekly visits to the leisure centre, gym, swimming baths, local police station, vets, park and also full-day trips to the seaside, Beamish and a farm. A grandfather nominated her for the way she dealt with his autistic grandson, who had a specially-trained support assistant put in place with funding for innovative approaches.
  • Inspirational College Student of the Year: Kieran Maxwell of Darlington College His nomination said: “Kieran is an exceptionally inspirational young man.

“He faces his challenges with humour and courage. Before his illness he worked tirelessly to improve his fitness and fulfil his dream as a Paralympian athlete, and last year he won gold at the Paralympian School Games in Brazil.

“He has been a remarkable ambassador for the college and is a student who is held in the utmost regard both for his studies and his courage in facing up to such a devastating illness. At the college we cannot think of a more deserving student to win the award.”

  • School of the Year: Evenwood Primary, a school of 98 pupils, where high standards are set by everyone from the head to the cleaner. It has taken in children who have difficulties elsewhere and turned them around from outsiders to non-attenders, to fully integrated into school life.

The nomination said: “The school environment places value upon the balance between discipline and a fun learning environment, where each pupil is important and where they are encouraged to develop personally and academically. It is an extremely caring school.”

Results had also improved and in Key Stage 2 it was performing well above the national average, and in the top five per cent of all schools nationally for reading, top ten per cent for writing and top 20 per cent for maths.