Congratulations to Sian Llewelyn at Rivers Academy in West London for securing her first teaching award for her outstanding SENCO work!

Sian, a former student at the school, was surprised and delighted to receive a letter from the charity Inspire Schools informing her that she has ’been selected as a winner at this year’s London Teacher of the Year Awards 2021.’

Sian will find out at the ceremony in November which award she will take home but is confident it will be recognition for her work as a SENCO at the popular secondary school.

Sian successfully spotted that a Year 11 student at the school was struggling with his academic work and noticed several behavioural traits that pointed to him being SEN (child with Specialist Educational Needs).

Following a detailed conversation with the teenager, Sian discovered that he has Irlen Syndrome which causes the brain to struggle to make sense of the visual information it receives. Images and words can appear distorted or jumbled and sufferers can also experience headaches, migraines and problems with depth perception.

Sian, who took over as SENCO at Rivers last year following the completion of a statutory award for the role at Roehampton University, said: ‘’The student was new to me, I had not taught him before and it was when I was teaching him English that a couple of things alerted me to him potentially being SEN. When I later sat down with him and his mum she explained that he had been diagnosed with Irlen Syndrome when he was a child and that she was glad that her concerns were finally being listened to and her son would get the help he needs.’’

Sian was able to put a support plan in place for the student and also spoke to other teachers at Rivers to make sure the strategies in place applied to all his lessons. Almost immediately, his grades improved and he left school this summer with a string of qualifications that allowed him to accept a place at his chosen college.

Sian said she was surprised but delighted with the award nomination and said it has spurred her on with the teaching work she is keen to do.

She said: ‘’It felt good that in my role I was able to support someone who needed it and that the family were very appreciative. It’s made me even more determined to raise awareness around pupils and teachers

It felt incredible, I was shocked and very surprised. To me, I had just done my job.

It was nice to feel appreciated. The win was just helping him and his family that was the first triumph for me.’’