Oldbury teacher scoops national award for his dedication to supporting children and young people with SEND
A recently retired teacher from the Black Country has been crowned Teacher of the Year at nasen's seventh annual awards.
Gary Whall, from Oldbury, was recognised for his outstanding work in supporting children and young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) and learning differences to reach their full potential.
The inspiring ceremony, held at the Grand Hotel Birmingham, was hosted by nasen – the National Association for Special Educational Needs and Disabilities – and supported by official media sponsors, Tes.
nasen is a charitable membership organisation that exists to support and champion those working with, and for, children and young people with SEND and learning differences.
Previously Director of Inclusion at Bristnall Hall Academy in Oldbury, Gary championed pupils with SEND, creating an inclusive learning environment for all students with additional needs. His aim was to ensure all students were confident enough to flourish in a mainstream school environment without the need for any separation.
Gary is passionate that students with SEND have the same access to activities as their peers, and has organised trips to the theatre and West Bromwich Albion games, as well as to trips to Paris and New York.
Outside of the school day, Gary was a staff governor and worked closely with the local authority to ensure all students in the area receive a high standard of support.
His endless hard work has resulted in the school being known for its strong SEND department.
Speaking of his win, Gary said: “Receiving award is the pinnacle of my long and rewarding teaching career.
"Having taught at Bristnall Hall Academy for 44 years, 27 years of which leading SEND, it has been amazing to be recognised for the contribution I have made to students, staff and SEND in general.
"I have the legacy of co-writing and naming a special school in Sandwell – High Point Academy, but this award is an honour and the icing on the cake.
“We must remember it is about a team approach when working with Special Needs students.
I must thank my team of support staff, deputy SENCO and inclusion secretary for their commitment to the progress of these students, without whom winning this award would not have happened.
"Bristnall Hall is a fantastic school to work in, with a very large number of outstanding special needs students, all of whom have their own individual strengths. I believe we work tirelessly to bring out the best in our vulnerable students allowing them to reach their true potential and goals."
15 other schools, individuals and organisation were recognised alongside Gary, judged by a panel of leading professionals with a wealth of experience in education and SEND – as well as individuals with lived experience.
Chief Executive of nasen, Annamarie Hassall MBE said: “Gary should be extremely proud of what he has achieved. We received the greatest number of nominations this year, full of inspiring and deserving schools, colleges, settings and individuals that are working together to make a difference for children and young people.
“All our winners, and those nominated, are true role models for the sector, shaping practice in their setting, whilst leading and inspiring others. They exemplify what is making a difference for learners with SEND and most of all, for inclusion.”