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Teacher Receives Lockdown Hero Award

Written by on 27th July 2021

A Rhondda Cynon Taf teacher has received the UK Lockdown Hero Award for Learner and Community Support at the annual Pearson National Teaching Awards.

Neil Topping, 55, a popular member of the staff at Caegarw Primary School in Mountain Ash, said he is deeply honoured to receive the award and to be recognised in this way.

From left – Headteacher Huw Griffiths, Pupil Gethin Kingston, Teacher Neil Topping

Described by event organisers as the ‘Oscars of the teaching profession,’ the Pearson National Teaching Awards were first established in 1998 and have since become an annual celebration of excellence in education, recognising the amazing work of teachers across the UK.

With 15 awards categories covering the primary, secondary and Further Education sectors, open to schools and colleges in Wales, England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, everyone at Caegarw Primary School is delighted with Mr Topping’s nationwide success.

Neil Topping, winner of the Lockdown Hero Award for Learner and Community Support,said: “Connecting with the children is what teaching is all about and that is what I was keen to maintain throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, which has affected all of our lives.


As well as helping improve the mathematics skills of our young learners, I also wanted them to have someone to talk to, either during online classes with their friends and classmates or on a one-to-one basis.

To win this award is such a huge honour and I thank those people who nominated me.”

Mr Topping, who lives in Tonteg, began his teaching career in 1998 at Ton Pentre Primary School, where he remained for 13 years before moving on to Caradog Parimary School in Aberdare, where he taught for six years. Mr Topping joined the teaching staff at Caegarw Primary School in 2018.

Councillor Joy Rosser, Rhondda Cynon TafCouncil Cabinet Member for Education and Inclusion Services, said:­ The past 18 months have been so difficult for us all, but more so for our learners who have continued with their education throughout such difficult circumstances.

Mr Topping is a credit to all at Caegarw Primary School, to his education profession and to all our wonderful teaching staff and schools support staff across Rhondda Cynon Taf who have done so much for the benefit of their pupils during this global pandemic.

At his school, Mr Topping has provided a vital online communication platform between his school and the young learners, which has been invaluable, especially during the full lockdown period. I am delighted that his work has been recognised at the 2021 Pearson National Teaching Awards.”

The judges also noted the impact Mr Topping makes at the school, assisting his learners to reach their full potential during exceptional circumstances.

Huw Griffiths, Headteacher at Caegarw Primary School, said: “Mr Topping is an asset to our school and the community. He is a dedicated and committed practitioner and we are blessed to have such a wonderful teacher at our school.

His work during the lockdown period was exemplary and ensured that the children were able to continue their learning to the highest possible standards. On behalf of the governors, staff, parents and pupils, I would like to thank him for his wonderful work at our school.”

Judges at the Pearson National Teaching Awards recognised all of Mr Topping’s hard work and dedication throughout the global pandemic in maintaining an online connection with the young learners at Caegarw Primary School, providing peer support and also helping improve the mathematics skills of young learners.

Michael Morpurgo, President of the Pearson National Teaching Awards, in a handwritten letter to Mr Topping, said: “The work you do, day-in day-out, is life-enhancing, life-changing, For a child to have a great teacher like you is so important – you open doors and shine a light.”

The 2019 Pearson Teaching Awards celebrate the finest teachers across the UK, nominated by pupils, parents and colleagues.