Ten state school teachers have been honoured by Oxford University for the inspirational roles they played in the education of former pupils.
The teachers, from across the UK, were nominated for Inspirational Teachers Awards by current Oxford students in recognition of their hard work and encouragement.
They received their awards on Friday at a ceremony held at Oxford's St Peter's College.
One of the winners was Debra Walsh, a French teacher at Brynteg Comprehensive School in Bridgend, Wales. She was nominated by Elis Harrington, who is studying Modern Languages at Jesus College, Oxford.
Debra said: 'I am absolutely delighted to have been nominated by Elis for this award, and although it is a privilege to be recognised in this way, I feel quite overwhelmed.
'My advice to students applying to university is never think that you have set the bar too high. If you aim high and you are committed, the opportunities and rewards are immeasurable.'
Elis said: 'Madame Walsh always acted as the backbone for my learning, particularly at times when I had doubts about which academic path I wanted to take. Her faith and confidence in me drove me to believe that I could achieve great things, such as getting a place to study at Oxford University.
'As for my time in Oxford, so far it has been brilliant. The tutorial environment truly offers students the chance to explore literature and language more than they may be able to from lectures alone, which is a feature that makes Oxford stand apart.'
The Inspirational Teachers scheme recognises the crucial role teachers and careers advisers play in encouraging talented students in their schools or colleges. A selection of current first-year Oxford undergraduates were asked to nominate teachers or careers advisers who inspired them to apply to Oxford, fostered their passion for a particular subject, or supported them through the application process. The students were all from selected UK state schools or colleges with a limited history and tradition of sending students to Oxford.
Dr Samina Khan, Director of Undergraduate Admissions and Outreach at Oxford, said: 'The Inspirational Teachers Award is one of the ways in which Oxford recognises the vital work of teachers in encouraging students to realise their potential and make a successful application to Oxford – especially those who might not initially have believed Oxford was for them. This is particularly true for teachers who champion students who might be the only ones in their year – or even their school's history – with the academic ability and drive to apply to Oxford. Achieving a place at Oxford requires dedication, and having the support of a committed teacher is, for many students, what makes the difference.'
Dr Khan, a former teacher, added: 'Teachers motivate and inspire students with a huge range of abilities and interests, and this year’s winning teachers also clearly showed faith in all their students. They have inspired students with their creativity and enthusiasm to be the best they possibly can be and deserve recognition for that above all. I hope this award goes some way to saying thank you.'
Oxford University's Vice-Chancellor, Professor Louise Richardson, said: 'Inspirational teachers make a lifelong impression on their students. Every one of us, of any age, can remember a teacher who challenged and inspired us, who brought out the best in us, and motivated us to do more. Oxford's standing as one of the world's pre-eminent universities is underpinned not only by the excellence of its research against global benchmarks, but by the acknowledged quality of its teaching. Congratulations to all of this year's award recipients.'
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