The unsung heroes of Norfolk education were honoured last night for turning around struggling schools, cutting truancy and impressing watchdog Ofsted.

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Norfolk Governors’ Network (NGN) held the third governor awards in the keep of Norwich Castle yesterday evening.

Awards for outstanding governance included Sue Platt from Aylsham High, for setting up a trust with other schools in the town, and Peter Hart, from Bawburgh School, for helping to turn around the school’s financial problems.

Long-serving chairman of governors at Preston Primary in Tasburgh, David Hughes, was also honoured for producing a handbook for governors.

Mr Hughes, 47, whose four daughters have all gone to the school, said: “Our role is to be a critical friend.

“We’re there to promote the school, but also there to challenge it.”

Mandy Marriott Simms, from Kinsale Infant, in Hellesdon, and Drayton Infant schools also won an award for getting three outstanding judgments from Ofsted.

Carole Green, a governor at Henderson Green Primary, in Norwich, was honoured for involving parents and the community in the life of the school, while Richard Chalkley from Gooderstone Primary, near King’s Lynn, won an award for moving the school up the Ofsted rankings from satisfactory to outstanding in three years.

Stephen Adamson, chairman of NGN, said: “Governors are volunteers so the awards are a way to mark the work that all governors do.

“They do very valuable work in Norfolk and all for nothing.”

Governor at Costessey Infants, June Betts, won her award for improving attendance and clerk Michael Fillenham was recognised for setting up and running a support group for clerks.

There were also awards for Louise Reeve, a governor at Fred Nicholson School, in Dereham, and Kinsale Junior, in Hellesdon, and Pat Pierce, a clerk at Great Dunham primary near Litcham.

There are 4,500 governors in Norfolk with spaces for over 5,000 and the county council is hoping more people will volunteer to join their schools.

Lisa Christensen, director of children’s services at Norfolk County Council, said: “Governors give an enormous amount of time voluntarily to do one of the most important jobs in the county.

“They have had to cope with an enormous amount of change happening in education at the moment. They are fantastic.”

Helen Wardale, the new manager of the county council’s governor services which supports the county’s governors, said: “We don’t really hear about the good stuff they are doing, so to celebrate their role is really positive.”

tom.bristow@archant.co.uk

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