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SCHOOL SUPERHERO: Local teacher wins national recognition


School superhero - a learning support teacher from Tyne & Wear has been praised in a national campaign to recognise staff working in schools.

Karen Bulmer, who works at Hetton School was nominated for the award by Lyn, a parent whose daughter attends the Hetton Le Hole school.

What Lyn said:

"Hetton School is forging a new path within the school for children on the SEN register, helping children with conditions such as Autism and ADHD, and helping those with long term medical conditions that affect their ability to function the same as other children in a mainstream school. Mrs Bulmer is part of the learning support team within the school and she goes the extra mile for both students and their families. She has been brilliant, I honestly don't know where I would be without her!

"My daughter is currently awaiting diagnosis for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Mrs Bulmer has been meeting with her every week to make sure she is okay and is coping within school. Mrs Bulmer tailors the meetings to focus not only on her SEN Care Plan but also to discuss any worries or concerns that my daughter may be having, as well as having conversations around how my daughter might talk to her friends about her diagnosis when she is ready.

“Lockdown has been extremely difficult for all families but for many children with SEN I cannot stress enough how much of a struggle it has been. Many of the children do not cope well without the structure and routine that school gives them.

“The pandemic meant that the routine was gone, and it was difficult for those children to accept the lack of structure in their day, often finding it very hard to sit and concentrate at home, to get some school work done. Mrs Bulmer would ring us, taking the time to ask how we both were, and when my daughter struggled in the last lockdown Mrs Bulmer arranged for her to have a place within school to do her school work for a few hours each day.

“Even when Mrs Bulmer didn't have time to telephone she would drop me an email to ask how things were at home.

"If I ever email Mrs Bulmer with a query or concern she gets back to me the same day. But as much as Mrs Bulmer has done for our family, I know she's there for other families too. I'd really like Mrs Bulmer to know just how much she is appreciated.  She is an angel!

"Now the children are back in school Mrs Bulmer has started groups for children who are finding it hard to settle back into school after so long off, to help with their social skills and get used to being with friends and around people again. Just this week Mrs Bulmer arranged a little end of year party for the children in the groups and she is always doing kind things for the children, like a bar of chocolate at Christmas, or a fidget toy if any of them are anxious and need something to fidget with, just thoughtful little gestures that really are a big deal to SEN children. Mrs Bulmer has been there for us through this whole period, as a support, a soundboard, a liaison. I couldn't wish for a better person to support my daughter whilst she is at school and the whole family at home."

Craig Knowles is headteacher of Hetton School and said the school has the highest expectations of students and staff:

“Every student, no matter what their starting point, is expected to operate with a Growth Mindset. We define this as Learn to Achieve. This means that we have a belief that we can all improve – that ability is not fixed; that barriers are there to be overcome not block us.

“In this context we: Embrace challenge – because it makes us stronger; Show resilience – stick in when the going gets tough; Welcome mistakes – learning from them is how we grow and achieve success; Give 100% effort – this will always prevail over talent alone in the long-term; Seek out and learn from feedback – learning from those that know or have experience; and find inspiration in the success of others – achievement is not competitive, it is complementary.

“Mrs Bulmer has embodied this philosophy by refusing to allow the barriers that some students face, get in the way of their development and progress. We are very proud of the work she and our learning support team do, and proud of our students for how they face and overcome the challenges they face in their education.”

The School Superheroes campaign allows any staff member working in a school to be nominated for an award, with one school superhero receiving a £50 Town and City Gift Card for their choice of over 60 schemes around the UK and Ireland, including the Sunderland Gift Card, with their school or class receiving a £250 cash prize.

The Sunderland Gift Card was launched on the 19th November 2020 by Sunderland Business Improvement District (BID) and Sunderland Council. Over 1900 gift cards were sold in the first two months of the programme, locking in around £40,000 for Sunderland businesses.

Sharon Appleby, Chief Executive of Sunderland BID said: “This is such a brilliant initiative and a great way to show how much people who work in education are appreciated and how much value they add to people’s lives. The Sunderland Gift Card is an ideal reward for anyone working in education. It can be spent in over 130 locations across the city, offering a treat which also supports local businesses.”

Colin Munro is the managing director of Miconex and said: “Schools, and school staff, have pushed out all the stops to support families and children during the pandemic, helping them through remote learning, supporting children as they return to school and being a listening ear when things got tough. The dedication and effort of Mrs Bulmer to support families at Hetton School is to be applauded. Congratulations to Mrs Bulmer and Hetton School on the nomination, and we look forward to announcing the winner in early September.”

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