Hackney school stars shine at awards night

School staff who devoted their working lives to helping pupils enjoy learning and overcome barriers to academic and personal achievement were recognised at the first ever Hackney School Stars awards.

Donna Davis, from Wentworth Nursery School; Debbie Ashton, from Grasmere Primary School; and Rose Flaherty, from Parkwood Primary School were chosen by a judging panel from 62 nominations by pupils, parents and colleagues.

The awards recognise everyone that contributes to school life in Hackney – from teachers to caretakers, cleaners and cooks – and without whom educational achievement would struggle to reach the high standards that now exist in the borough.

Donna Davis, Early Years Educator & Learning Support Coordinator, won the Schools Star Award. She was nominated by a parent of an autistic boy after becoming his key worker and transforming his communication, social and interaction skills, helping him to approach other children, join or initiate games and make friends.

Donna said: “I feel really honored to win this award, I do my job as I want children and families to achieve, I go home happy everyday and I feel like my work is the true reward.”

Debbie Ashton, was named Teacher of the Year, after being nominated by a parent who praised her for transforming her daughter’s attitude to learning, to the extent that a girl who once didn’t like books is now an avid reader.

The pupil was also self-conscious about coming from a different country, but in Debbie’s class she said she felt that she truly belonged. Overall Grasmere parents felt it wouldn’t be the inclusive school it is without her.

Debbie said: “A big thank you to all my colleagues and the pupils at Grasmere School: I couldn't have done it without them. Hackney is a great place to work."

Rose Flaherty won the Schools Lifetime Achievement award after 40 years service as a meals supervisor. Her colleague’s nomination said Rose had seen generations pass through her care without slowing down.

Over the past four decades, Rose has seen it all – from broken limbs and raging fevers, to heads stuck in railings – doing all she can to make sure that every child is safe and happy.

She voluntarily leads the schools breakfast club to ensure all children, no matter what background, could begin the day with a nutritious meal, without her generosity the school could not operate this free service. Rose also took action to stop bullying and encourage friendships by establishing a group of older children to buddy up with younger ones during break time.

The event on 8 March at Hackney Town Hall was compared by presenter Kat B and saw former Hackney pupil and star of Channel Four’s ‘The Great British Bake Off’, Liam Charles, make a guest appearance.


Cllr Anntoinette Bramble, Deputy Mayor of Hackney
It’s really important that we recognise and celebrate Hackney’s amazing school staff. They are true unsung heroes who tirelessly work everyday to achieve great results, or deliver special care to children and families, so they can be successful. We provide some of the best schools in the country and teachers, therapists, admin staff, cooks and cleaners, to name but a few, have made this happen. They really deserve to be thanked for what they do.
Cllr Anntoinette Bramble, Deputy Mayor of Hackney