Kirsty Downs, head of PE at Alderman Peel High School in Wells nominated for secondary teacher of the year award

Kirsty Downs with pupils at Alderman Peel High School, Wells. Picture: Ian Burt

Kirsty Downs with pupils at Alderman Peel High School, Wells. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt

An inspirational teacher who has made a difference to the lives of hundreds of young people has been short-listed for one of the profession's 'Oscars'.

Colleagues, pupils and parents have nominated Kirsty Downs, head of PE and assistant head at Alderman Peel High School, in Wells, for the Teacher of the Year in a Secondary School award.

She will find out whether she has won on June 12, which is Thank a Teacher Day. If successful, she will collect her prize at a glittering awards night in London, broadcast on BBC2.

Miss Downs said she had no idea she had been nominated before colleagues told her whilst she was on a skiing trip to Italy with 30 pupils.

'It was really emotional, it was a big surprise, but it was kind of brilliant,' she said.


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Miss Downs, 30, is in her ninth year at Alderman Peel, in Market Lane, which is a specialist sports college.

She came to north Norfolk after stints at Methwold High and a school in Hertfordshire.

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'I loved PE and I loved PE at school,' she said. 'My PE teachers were my inspiration.'

Harriet Rudd, a newly-qualified PE teacher, endorsed Miss Downs's nomination.

'I did my teacher training year here and I closely shadowed Kirsty all year,' said Miss Rudd. 'She was a definite role model for me in teaching.'

Judges from the Pearson Teaching Awards will be coming to Alderman Peel, to watch Miss Downs teach and speak to colleagues, students, parents and community representatives. She was short-listed from 20,000 teachers who were given an online 'thank-you' message on the organisation's website.

Alderman Peel head Alastair Ogle said: 'All the staff work extremely hard here to have one of us recognised by an external body such as the Pearson awards is a huge compliment for all of us.'

Colleagues say Miss Downs has changed the way they teach by drawing up a 'learning template' to motivate students, which has been rolled out across the school.

One colleague said: 'I am so glad I have met a teacher like Kirsty because she has certainly shaped the way I will teach forever.'

Another wrote she had 'an infectious personality' and a 'real passion to improve the learning of any student'.

A Year 11 pupil added: 'Miss Downs has a great sense of humour, she never criticises us, she is a positive role model and she shows this to pupils by demonstrating good practice.

'Miss Downs's lessons are always enjoyable, they are taught in an enthusiastic manner, you can always tell she puts a lot of time and thought into her lessons.'

Has an inspiring teacher made a difference to you or your child's life at or after school? E-mail chris.bishop@archant.co.uk.

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