Inspirational Herts & Essex High School teacher Caitlin Hayward short-listed for national Secondary School Teacher of the Year title in prestigious UK celebration of teaching
A teacher at Herts and Essex High School who first joined the secondary as an 11-year-old pupil has been short-listed for a national teacher of the year title.
Caitlin Hayward, who is head of drama, is one of 80 Silver Award winners across the UK in the Pearson National Teaching Awards. She has been honoured in the ‘Teacher of the Year in a Secondary School’ category for her "outstanding commitment to changing the lives of the children she works with every day".
She is one of seven in her category short-listed for a Gold Award later in the year, two of whom work in Bishop's Stortford schools – the other is Hockerill Anglo-European College English teacher Michelle Butler.
The 38-year-old married mother of three was recognised at a staff breakfast at the school in Warwick Road on Thursday (May 26) on national 'Thank a Teacher Day', which brings together people to celebrate the schools and colleges at the heart of their communities. She was presented with her award by Cathy Tooze, executive headteacher of Herts & Essex Multi Academy Trust.
Caitlin said: "I've been utterly blindsided by this award. It came as such a surprise.
"Without being a cringey 'dram type' and sounding like an Oscar winner, I'd like to give a huge thanks to Cathy [Tooze], Kate [Curtis, assistant headteacher: communications], Katherine [Porter, drama teacher], Dan [Clark, ICT technician] and Ian [Corner, executive deputy head], who gave up so much of their own precious time to make me feel special by nominating me. I appreciate their love, support and friendship so much.
"But this is also a recognition for all of us that work here at Herts & Essex. We're such a tight-knit family and I love seeing so many smiley faces as I wander around the site.
"This is like the moment in Mean Girls where Cady breaks up the prom queen tiara between everyone as we all deserve a little bit. So once again, thank you for the love today. You are all superstars."
As a Silver Award winner, Caitlin is short-listed to win one of 16 individual and team Gold Awards later in the year in a programme to be broadcast on the BBC's The One Show as part of a week-long celebration of teaching which will see famous faces honour award winners every night in the run-up to the ceremony.
Caitlin joined Herts & Essex as a bright-eyed, enthusiastic Year 7 girl in September 1995. Now, almost 27 years later, the difference she makes to the school as a teacher is huge. Described by colleagues as "terrific", everything she does "enriches the lives of the students, colleagues and wider community".
Mrs Tooze said: “We’re thrilled but not surprised by Caitlin’s success in the national competition for Secondary School Teacher of the Year. Caitlin is an outstanding and inspiring teacher who goes above and beyond for our students.
"Mum of three young boys, wife of professional actor Mark, senior governor of Radwinter Primary School, director of breath-taking musicals... words fail me in relation to trying to summarise the difference Caitlin makes.
"Herts & Essex’s students, as a direct result of Caitlin’s fabulous support and teaching, leave us for world-class destinations in the hugely competitive field of performing arts.
"Everyone at Herts & Essex wishes Caitlin the very best of luck in achieving a Gold Award. She certainly deserves it.”
The Pearson National Teaching Awards is an annual celebration of excellence in education, founded in 1998 by Lord Puttnam to recognise the life-changing impact an inspirational teacher can have on the lives of the young people they work with.
Author and former Children’s Laureate Michael Morpurgo, president of the Teaching Awards Trust, which manages the Pearson awards, said: “For so many of us, it was someone at school who changed our lives, was at our side through hard and difficult times, who lifted us up when we were down, helped us find our voice, gave us confidence when we needed it most and set us on a path that we have followed ever since.
“No matter who we are, school has touched our lives and played a central role in our childhoods. School is about so much more than learning, and we see that now more than ever before. Schools really are the beating heart of our communities. Every person that cares for our children in schools should be celebrated loud and clear on Thank A Teacher Day 2022.”