A TORFAEN teacher has been honoured by Oxford University for having an ‘inspirational’ and lasting impact on a former pupil.

Mrs Emma Read, Head of English at St Albans RC High School, Pontypool, is one of 10 teachers from across the state school and college sector to have won a 2019 Oxford University ‘Inspirational Teachers’ award.

The initiative is designed to celebrate and show appreciation for the crucial role that teachers in state schools and colleges play in encouraging talented young people’s aspirations against the odds, and helping them to realise their potential.

A selection of current first-year Oxford undergraduates were asked to nominate teachers who inspired them to apply to Oxford, drove their passion for a particular subject and supported them to prepare for interviews and the notoriously challenging interview process. The students selected were all from state schools or colleges with low traditions of sending students to Oxford.

The winners will receive their awards from Professor Martin Williams, Pro-Vice-Chancellor at Oxford University on Friday May 17 at a ceremony held at Worcester College.

Mrs Read was nominated by Laura McGriele, who is studying English Language and Literature, at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford.

Mrs Read said: "I am overjoyed to receive this award, especially having been nominated by a very special student, with whom I taught for five years.

"The whole purpose behind it is one which I wholeheartedly support. I applaud the fact that this most prestigious university is demonstrating a commitment to social equality, encouraging young, talented people, often from deprived backgrounds, to aim high.

"I share this passion and it drives me daily, in my determination to make my pupils believe in themselves and defy the expectations society has shackled them with.

"I am inspired in this pursuit by my parents, both of whom chose a different path than that laid out for them by their working class backgrounds, returning to study at Higher Education in their 30s to later embark on professional careers. They had only each other and themselves for support in this but gave their all to the development of their children’s futures.

"I aim to pay their faith in me forward supporting and challenging the young people I encounter, who do not experience the kindness that I have always enjoyed."

Ms McGriele, on how Mrs Read had such a lasting impact on her life, said: "I nominated Mrs Read because she never judged me - not once, nor ever.

"She was fair, kind, and strong, my first encounter with not only a firm and compassionate teacher, but a wonderful, brilliant woman. She helped me understand that I was good enough for things beyond what others had judged for me, and taught me the subject I now adore and study, pushing me every day to go beyond the stringent syllabus and into my own interests.

"A compassionate teacher, a strong woman, and a role-model - not just to me but to every student in our school."

Winning the award is testament to the impact that teachers can have on young people’s lives and aspirations.

"It is an absolute privilege to teach – to accompany young people on their journey of discovering, exploring and questioning the world in which they live," added Mrs Read.

"I love to see their curiosity, to engage in debate with them and to learn so much from them! I consider myself lucky indeed to have a career from which I derive such satisfaction. This award is the perfect way to celebrate 20 years of my teaching career and I would like to dedicate it to my parents."

Further details about the Inspirational Teachers programme are available at ox.ac.uk/inspirationalteachers