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Headteacher's pride at being named the best in Wales

The headteacher at a primary school in Swansea has been named the best in Wales.

Mark Thompson

Mark Thompson, who has led St Helen's Primary School in the city since 2011, picked up the award at the Professional Teaching Awards Cymru.

The national awards, launched by the Welsh Government, recognise the ongoing good work that teachers and leaders do in our schools and were established to celebrate the commitment, dedication and inspiration of the teaching profession in Wales.

Pupils, parents and colleagues were able to nominate education professionals and schools for consideration for the awards, with the winners announced at a prestigious event in Cardiff City Hall on Sunday.

Mr Thompson said: "It was just an amazing day. It was such an honour to win because you are in a room with inspirational people doing amazing jobs around Wales."

As well as leading the team at St Helen's, Mr Thompson supports other schools in Swansea.

He said the award was recognition for the hard work of all staff at St Helen's as well as the pupils, their parents and the wider community.

"The judges highlighted our links to the community, the fact been helping other schools as well as undertaking my role here and the work we do here," he added.

"There are challenging circumstances as we have got 90 per cent English as an additional language which is the highest in the city, there is a very high turnover of children here and a high percentage of children with additional learning needs.

"But we have come a long way as a school - from one of the worst attendance rates in the city back in 2010 to being one of the best.

"Results have seriously improved and pupil numbers have flown up.

"There has been real investment from Flying Start which has brought all sections of the community together and that has been a major focus of all our work.

"We had a wonderful inspection last year in which we had an overall excellent rating from Estyn.

"We are so so lucky to have such a special team who work here. The commitment levels are just phenomenal and they are very experienced people who have been here a long time and know the community inside out.

"Then we have got wonderful children and as the inspection noted they are just so commitment and highly motivated.

"Once you have got that the learning is easy because you have got them hooked and every child is achieving their potential while they are with us.

"Of course we have got wonderful parents as well who are very supportive of all of us here."

Mr Thompson was not the only winner from Swansea.

Bethan Baglow of Olchfa School won the award for School Business Manager/Bursar.

Hafod Primary School had been shortlisted for the Whole School Award for promoting relationships with parents and the community but just missed out.

Swansea Council's chief education officer Nick Williams said: "We are very lucky in Swansea to have some exceptional professionals working in our schools and this was reflected in the strong representation we had at Sunday's award ceremony.

"I would like to congratulate all those nominated on behalf of everyone at Swansea Council."

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