True ‘unsung hero’ at Harborough secondary school celebrates prestigious educational accolade

Nicki Burgess is one of only 80 Pearson National Teaching Award Silver Award winners in the country

By Red Williams
Friday, 27th May 2022, 12:30 pm
Nicki Burgess, the PA to Principal Julie McBrearty at Welland Park Academy, is one of only 80 Pearson National Teaching Award Silver Award winners in the country.
Nicki Burgess, the PA to Principal Julie McBrearty at Welland Park Academy, is one of only 80 Pearson National Teaching Award Silver Award winners in the country.

A true “unsung hero” at a Market Harborough secondary school is celebrating winning a prestigious educational accolade.

Nicki Burgess, the PA to Principal Julie McBrearty at Welland Park Academy, is one of only 80 Pearson National Teaching Award Silver Award winners in the country.

And she’s been joined in the hall of fame by Carolynn Southcombe, School Administrator at Cottingham CofE Primary School, near Market Harborough.

Nicki and Carolynn have been honoured with a Silver Award in The Award for Unsung Hero for their “outstanding commitment to changing the lives of the children they work with every day”.

Tireless Nicki voluntarily heads up the school PTA, the Year 11 Prom and works with local community groups to organise bake sales as well as the popular annual scarecrow festival in Lubenham.

She’s just trained to become a mental health first aider in school and has mentored several students.

Nicki helps them plan their revision, manage their day, organise their homework, cope with the exam pressure and plan for a balanced lifestyle.

As if that little lot’s not enough, she also helps organise the school ‘secret buddy’ scheme and keeps up morale in the front office.

Julie McBrearty, who heads up 1,000-student Welland Park Academy on Welland Park Road, said: “So many staff from different public services deserved recognition for their immense work throughout Covid and more recently.

“However, Nicki is an endless source of energy and determination with infectious enthusiasm,” said Julie.

“She is integral to school operations, demonstrates great resilience and she truly is an unsung hero!”

Carolynn has worked as an administrator at Cottingham CofE Primary School for 20 years.

She previously served in the RAF for eight years before working as a police special constable for four years.

Carolynn volunteered with the Scouts and ran a Beaver Scout colony for 10 years.

She regularly “supports children and their families with regards to anxiety, self-esteem, and behaviour, leads the pupil 'Magnificent Minds' group, and takes weekly yoga sessions for children”.

Carolynn has also raised funds for the school and competed in the London-to-Brighton walk, London Marathon and a 100-mile walking challenge.

Ashley Scott, Head Teacher at Cottingham CofE Primary School, said:

“During my time as the Headteacher at Cottingham CofE Primary School I have been lucky to work with super colleagues and Carolynn has been a very special colleague.

“Not only does she support me but as the front of house she welcomes parents and visitors with an amazing greeting that is now well known,” said Ashley.

“Carolynn is very efficient in her admin role but goes above and beyond to ensure that the staff and pupils in particular are happy.

“She is very well thought of throughout the Cottingham CofE community and very much deserves the recognition that the Pearson award offers.”

As Silver Award winners, Nicki and Carolynn have now been shortlisted to win one of just 16 Gold Awards later in the year.

Recognition of this striking achievement will be broadcast on the BBC’s The One Show as part of a week-long celebration of teaching.

The Pearson National Teaching Awards are an annual celebration of excellence in education.