Sussex Special Needs Teacher wins ‘Inspirational Educator Award’

5 May 2017

Helen Dunman, a specialist teacher at Chailey Heritage School in East Sussex has won a prestigious ‘Inspirational Educator’ award from the Worshipful Company of educators.

Chailey Heritage School part of Chailey Heritage Foundation, is a special school for children with complex physical disabilities and high health needs, including cerebral palsy, profound multiple learning disabilities and long term ventilated.

Helen has worked at the school for fourteen years, during this time she has developed an amazing suite of resources to support the children, their families, staff and increasingly, professionals in the wider world of special needs.

Helen’s principal subject is Drama, and in teaching this she manages to engage with every single child and young person in groups which include a huge range of needs and abilities.

Simon Yates, Headteacher at Chailey Heritage School commented;
”Helen’s work is thoughtful as well as inspirational. It is driven by her passion to get the best lives possible for all of these very vulnerable children and young people. She is wonderful in class, teaching SRE and PSHE and her drama sessions are just a joy to behold.”  

For the past four years, she has ensured that our students have been part of the national Schools for Shakespeare festival, performing in the productions alongside non-disabled youngsters. Every year the school pantomime, which Helen organises and leads, draws the biggest crowd and delights the parents and families. Yet in all of this she never loses sight of the essential purpose of the activities which is to help support the children towards their Next Steps – their individual learning targets.

Helen also leads on the essential and sensitive topic of Personal Safety – too often a subject which is overlooked for youngsters with severe and complex needs. Helen teaches about Sex and Relationships, and Safeguarding – supporting staff who work with her throughout. She works closely with parents, who often find that supporting their child through this stage of their development is quite challenging.

Helen also teaches about Bereavement, approaching this topic in a pragmatic yet sensitive way; tackling both the adults’ questions as well as those of the young people themselves. 

Mr Yates added;
"But her work pushing forwards for the rights of these particular children in a society not yet fully open to them, and her taking these messages out into the learning community and beyond are what is truly inspirational.”

Hanbury Department Manager, Paula Marten said;
"We're incredibly fortunate to have such an amazingly creative teacher as part of our team and we are thrilled that she has won this well-deserved award."

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