Devonshire Hill primary school teacher Anoria Simmons won the national award for Teacher Of The Year In A Primary School. Picture: Carmel King
A Tottenham teacher loved by pupils, known as “Super Simmons” by parents and likened to “sunshine on our corridor” by her colleagues has been crowned the best primary school teacher in the entire UK.
Anoria Simmons, a maths specialist at Devonshire Hill primary school who is admired for her “strict but fair” approach, won the award on Sunday night at the “Oscars for teachers”, the Pearson Teaching Awards.
Anoria was presented with her award by Harry Potter actor Warwick Davis, one of a slew of celebrities at the glittering ceremony at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane in London’s West End, including Olympian Mo Farrah and comedian Ronnie Corbett.
Anoria was one of 10 award-winners chosen from a record 24,000 nominations. She received a gold Plato award - the ultimate symbol of excellence in education - and will feature in a BBC2 documentary this Sunday about the UK’s best teachers.
She was nominated by her headteacher Julie D’Abreu who describes her “total and relentless commitment, enthusiasm and energy to improving the life chances of some of the most deprived children in the country”.
Harry Potter actor Warwick Davis, centre left, will Devonshire Hill primary school pupils and their award-winning teacher Anoria Simmons. Picture: Carmel King
Harry Potter actor Warwick Davis presents Devonshire Hill primary school teacher Anoria Simmons with the award for Teacher Of The Year In A Primary School. Picture: Carmel King
Ms D’Abreu called Anoria, who has taught in London for 20 years, “an exceptional education professional who really does stand out from the rest”, adding: “She has unique relationships with some of our hardest-to-reach children and their families, she has achieved this over the years by a refined balance of fairness and strictness!”
Anoria started teaching in her native St Vincent and the Grenadines in 1977, where her school went from one of the worst to the third-best for 11-plus exam results.
When she arrived at Devonshire Hill in Weir Hall Road, Tottenham, it was in special measures, but it too has had its future turned around and is now judged as “good” by Ofsted.
Judges who observed her teach a maths class said she “has achieved something very special by gaining such high respect from her pupils, which encourages them to always do their best”.
Since joining an exchange trip to a 1,300-pupil school in Malawi, she is fundraising to help build a new classroom block there, and formed the Youth and Community Development Initiative charity in the wake of the Tottenham riots to give young people financial education and responsibilities in voluntary work.
The judges said: “We were completely bowled over by the person we met and the stories surrounding her success. She is the kind of person the awards were set up to identify and recognise - what a truly remarkable person.”
All nominees were endorsed by schools before being shortlisted and visited at school by regional and UK judging panels.
Rod Bristow, President of Pearson UK and chair of the Pearson Teaching Awards UK judging panel said: “We recognise and support inspirational teachers for their commitment to teaching and learning and to improving the life chances of the next generation. It is really important that we create opportunities to say thank you.”
+ Britain’s Classroom Heroes, a programme showing the ceremony and the award winners at work in their classrooms, will be broadcast on BBC2 on Sunday, October 27, at 5.30pm.