On Thursday 12th October, the Newsquest Golden Apple Awards were held at the Greenhill Hotel in Wigton. The coveted awards ceremony recognises talent, resilience and achievements in the education sector, as well as its inspiring people.

This event brings together the best leaders, teachers, support staff and schools from across the Cumbrian education sector. We were delighted to have had a number of nominees from schools across the Trust, as well as sponsoring the Best Student award.

We could not have been prouder to have two members of staff win an award.

Joanna Daulby, Assistant Headteacher at Workington Academy, won the Best Education and Learning Leader award. Her nominator said: “Jo is a positive role model within the school for colleagues and provides constant support to all members of staff, but especially to current Early Career Teachers (ECTs).

“Jo is an exceptional leader – she understands each teacher’s strengths and areas for development, offering tailored and bespoke CPD opportunities for staff members to enhance their skillset based on the subject they teach. She always makes time to listen to the staff she works with and builds relationships with them.

“As an ECT, you know that no question should go unanswered – Jo’s door is always open. As an ECT, Jo has had a huge impact on my experience of being a teacher in the first year of my career. Jo has always listened to my worries and helped me to see through the problem and find solutions. She always makes me feel that I am a valued member of staff, even though I don’t share as much experience as my colleagues.

“At the start of 2023, I was questioning my career and whether I would be better suited to a job elsewhere. Jo helped me get to the root of my worries by supporting me, nurturing me and building my confidence back up. If it wasn’t for Jo, I wouldn’t still be working as a teacher in secondary education. I will be forever grateful for the support that I have received over the past year and I know that other teachers also feel the same way as me.”

Picking up the award on behalf of Joanna, Des Bird, Director of Secondary Improvement, said: “I’m absolutely made up for Jo. She really does deserve it – she has spent a long time working at the academy, and she is an incredible inspiration to everyone who works there. She really cares about staff. She thinks about what is going to make the difference and she is just an inspiration.”

Emma Graham, Admin Manager at The Whitehaven Academy, won the Best Support Staff award. Her nominator said: “She is so much more than any of these roles. She is the nervous system of the academy. For all her efficiency, and tireless drive, she finds the time to make each individual feel valued. Colleagues and students alike value her inimitable blend of blunt humour and warm compassion.”

David McCabe, Outdoor Learning Lead, added: “Emma makes a huge range of educational visits and activities happen. From navigating through the paperwork to often actually driving the minibus, Emma gives unwavering support that allows students to enrich and extend their learning.”

Further tribute was paid by Ian Hick, Chair of the Local Advisory Board, who said: “I am very impressed by Emma and the service she provides to us as clerk to the governors. She is very professional at all times in her role, and can deal with confidential information on a routine basis. Emma has a frankly amazing ability to capture long, often rambling, conversations in a concise way for meeting minutes, which I know, from experience, to be a very rare skill. In short, Emma’s skills as a clerk are excellent. But more than that, she is always a pleasure to work with, and as my vice chair Steve says, an integral member of the LAB team.”

Gary Trewhitt, Deputy Head, summed things up by saying: “Emma is the most selfless person I have ever worked with. She is the heartbeat of the school upon whom so many of us rely. No matter what she is currently working on or how busy she is, any question or request for help is greeted with a cheerful ‘no problem’. She is the busiest person I have ever met and yet still she finds the time to check in on everyone and to keep morale across the school high.”

Emma said: “I’m overwhelmed, completely and utterly overwhelmed. I don’t do praise very well and to be nominated is phenomenal but to win is just… I can’t believe it.” When asked what she loved most about her job, she said: “The people that I work with. They are the best people you could ever hope to be with, and they all are in it for the kids. I’d never want to do anything else; I love where I work, I love the people that I work with and it’s just the best job ever.”

Congratulations to you both, it is so well-deserved and we are delighted that you have been recognised for your tireless hard work and positive spirit.