2021 has been an unprecedented year for many people. We speak to Councillor Suzy Horton, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Children, Families and Education at Portsmouth City Council to talk about teaching in Portsmouth and her personal highlights over the last 12 months.
If you are a regular reader of the blog, you might be familiar with Councillor Suzy Horton. Every year, we speak to Suzy about her experiences, stand out moments and reflections of the year as well as looking ahead to the future.
In 2020, you spoke about how remote learning had changed the way children and young people were taught. How would you describe teachers and their efforts to quickly adapt to that situation?
Schools worked tirelessly to support children and young people with at home learning. When pupils could return to the classroom, staff were excited to welcome them back. There is no replacement for the friendships children make in person and the relationships they have with their teachers are essential.
The last year forced us to engage with digital learning like never before. The skills that were gained during the lockdown haven't been lost and are now part of day to day classroom activity.
Can you tell us about your favourite moments in education from 2021?
One of my favourite moments was co-hosting the Teach Portsmouth Awards Live. It was an amazing feeling to celebrate the achievements of teachers, teams and leaders in a virtual awards ceremony. In between lockdowns, when restrictions allowed, I visited schools in the city to present trophies for all their hard work.
Another big moment was when pupils were able to return to school in September. It felt like a huge milestone had occurred after a period of uncertainty.
In 2021, we introduced the people's choice category in the Teach Portsmouth Awards. How important is it for the local community to have their say in recognising their teaching heroes?
I am a great believer that parents play a vital role in the partnership of learning alongside teachers. It was fantastic to open the awards to parents/carers as a way for them to say thank you to teachers for their efforts during the pandemic. I look forward to seeing what nominations we get when the category launches online in March 2022.
The Teach Portsmouth Awards return on Thursday 9 June. How important is it to celebrate the successes of colleagues in the city?
I think it's important to celebrate the impact teachers have on the city's children and young people. The Teach Portsmouth Awards give us an opportunity to celebrate their achievements and showcase the quality of work going on in the city. I love the stories that accompany the awards as they are often very moving and highlight best practice.
What are you most looking forward to in 2022?
I'm looking forward to us being able to look outward again in the broadest sense. While the pandemic hasn't gone away, I want us to start thinking externally.
I've been part of some inspirational activities this year including volunteering every week at Bramble Infant School. I've supported their School Street pilot project, where the site supervisor has championed this scheme.
I've also visited Trafalgar School to learn about their innovative approach to relational practice. Schools have already gone above and beyond, and I look forward to seeing that work continue in the new year.
Do you have a special message for Portsmouth's teachers, support teams and leaders?
I would like to say a massive thank you for what you have done. I've said it many times over the last few years, but I'm continually impressed with the support you provide Portsmouth's children, young people and families.
More importantly, I'd like to thank you for the role that you have played in relation to public health and how you have found time to give to foodbanks and support local charities, showing children the importance of the wider community. You are all amazing!
Looking ahead to 2022
The Teach Portsmouth team are here to support your teaching journey. With our next webinar on early years education on Monday 17 January as well as the Teach Portsmouth Awards on Thursday 9 June - there's plenty of things to look forward to in 2022. Be the first to hear about them by signing up to our newsletter.