An inspirational head teacher is celebrating after being crowned silver winner in a national teachers’ awards ceremony.
Spring Grove Junior and Infant School head Hawa Bibi Laher was one of just 55 national winners from 20,000 entrants at the inaugural Teaching Awards.
Hawa, who is celebrating her 10th year in the role at the Springwood school, gained silver in the primary headteacher of the year category and was commended by judges for letting her ‘belief and passion’ shine through every aspect of academic life.
It is the latest accolade for the teacher, who was awarded an OBE for services to Education in 2011 and whose outlook on life was influenced by growing up in Apartheid South Africa, where racist attitudes and discrimination were rife.
She was praised for putting children’s voices at the heart of the school and for encouraging them to become highly motivated, engaged and show outstanding learning behaviour.
Hawa, whose pupils speak 15 languages between them and mainly count English as a second language, has long been noted to be a good role model for children of ethnic minority backgrounds and for encouraging positive relations between different cultures.
She said: “I didn’t expect to get the award and was just pleased to have been short-listed.
“I think I was chosen due to the ethos and atmosphere of the school - it’s so positive, there’s real team work and pride amongst all children, staff and parents.
“Everyone is committed to ensuring that pupils reach their full potential and when they leave us they have high aspirations for their futures, so I would like to thank all staff for their continued hard work.”
Hawa moved to Batley from an Indian township in Lenasia near to Soweto in a bid to gain a good education, due to a lack of opportunities caused by prejudicial policies of the National Party governments of South Africa between 1948 and 1994.
She said: “There are many things that make me proud of the school but taking it to outstanding status and high grades are definitely highlights.
“I hope that the school continues to improve and that children who will come to the school will achieve their best.
“Winning this would also not have been possible without the children, the governors, the support of the community and Debbie Kelly, who nominated me.”
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