Nick O’Brien, assistant headteacher at Dereham Neatherd High School, won the Outstanding Support for Students award, sponsored by Norfolk Teacher Training Centre, at the Norfolk Education Awards 2023.

Not only is Nick incredibly supportive to students, he also provides excellent support to parents.

Leading the SEND team at the school, Nick helps to support students through their high school journey.

He is committed to ensuring all students have an equal voice no matter their ability/neurodiversity, and he strives to ensure the school provides a supportive and inclusive environment.

Together with the SEND team, Nick builds great partnerships with parents, helping to create an environment where students can thrive.

The judges said Nick “has shown significant commitment to inclusivity, and obviously strongly believes in the importance of all children’s voices being heard”.

They added that the submission for Nick “outlined the important supporting role he has provided to both students and their parents”.

Reflecting on the “great partnership” that Nick and the SEND team have created with children and parents, the judging panel said this connection and support are key for schools at the moment.

Commenting on the award win, Nick said: “It means a lot, but I really want to stress it’s on behalf of the whole team.

“We have twice the national average of SEND students at Dereham Neatherd High School with nearly 25pc, so it’s got to be a team job.”

For more information on the Norfolk Education Awards, please visit the website.

To find out more about all of this year's winners, please click here.

The finalists

Joe Harkness - Cromer Academy

Joe is approachable, relatable and able to engage young people and put them at ease. If students are withdrawn or struggling, he engages them with learning opportunities and ensures they feel safe and have connections at school. 

Joe has a fantastic understanding of mental health and emotional wellbeing and has created a space where young people can feel relaxed in an often overwhelming secondary school environment.

The judges said Joe has had “a real impact” on young people at Cromer Academy through his approachability and understanding of mental health. They added that his nomination outlined the fantastic support he has provided for students, particularly in ensuring they have safe and relaxed spaces.

Scott Mynett - Easton College

Scott initially volunteered to put on the occasional games club at Easton College, and this subsequently became a regular lunchtime commitment and welcome breakout area for students.

Scott’s enthusiasm for gaming and the atmosphere he has created is vital for many students who enjoy having somewhere safe to chill, re-set their brain cells and have fun after a hard lesson. 

The judges were impressed by Scott’s commitment to this club and his enthusiastic development of it from an informal ad-hoc club to a permanent weekly session. The judges were impressed by Scott’s commitment to this club and his enthusiastic development of it from an informal ad-hoc club to a permanent weekly session.

About the sponsor

Part of City College Norwich, Norfolk Teacher Training Centre (NTTC) has been a teacher training provider since 2014. NTTC works with primary and secondary schools to provide high-quality, school-based initial teacher training, leading to qualified teacher status (QTS).

NTTC is committed to training great teachers who help each child flourish into caring, confident and resilient young people with a love of learning. It has a personalised, evidence-based approach to working with its trainees and is proud of the support it provides to help them succeed.

Currently NTTC has 56 trainees and apprentices in primary, special and secondary schools.