Long service to education celebrated at awards ceremony

Long service attendees on the steps of Portsmouth Guildhall

The city's education workforce came together to celebrate two decades of service at an awards ceremony held at Portsmouth Guildhall on Wednesday 26 June 2024. 87 people from primary, secondary and special schools were put forward by their peers to attend an afternoon tea and trophy giving in recognition of their achievements.

Mike Stoneman, deputy director, education at Portsmouth City Council hosted the event, welcoming guests before they received a certificate and trophy for their long service. The event is part of a series of activities to recognise and reward school staff for their achievements. Mike said:  

Mike Stoneman welcoming event attendees at Portsmouth Guildhall

"Everyone who works in a school deserves recognition for what they do. For those who have enjoyed long careers, it is important to draw attention to such an achievement. 

"With long service comes experience, and this is something we've chosen to celebrate as part of an iniaitive to recognise the city's education workforce. The event has been a success allowing us to recognise those who have worked in the city's schools for two decades." 

Mike Stoneman, deputy director, education

City leaders were joined by Nys Hardingham, CEO at Salterns Academy Trust and Jennese Alozie, CEO at the University of Chichester Academy Trust who co-sponsored the event.

Rob Jones, head teacher at Stamshaw Junior School attended the event, alongside his colleague Michelle Jones. Rob has been a head teacher and deputy head teacher over the last 20 years. He started his career working in summer camps in South Africa before moving to the UK where he began teaching. He has been head teacher at Stamshaw Junior School for five years. Rob said:

(Left to right - Nys Hardingham, Michelle Jones, Rob Jones and Jennese Alozie)

"Teaching has been my passion since a young age from when I worked at holiday camps in South Africa for under privileged children. After thirty years in the profession, some of which I undertook in South Africa, I can honestly say that I have loved every moment.

"I have been working at Stamshaw Junior School for five years, as the headteacher, and in Portsmouth for 20 years. The city has such a wonderful community of education superstars - I'm very lucky to be part of it.

"I have been fortunate to work with outstanding individuals who have helped me along on my journey. The long service celebration and awards ceremony was recognition for me as it was for them."

Rob Jones

Lisa Adams, a special educational needs and disabilities co-ordinator (SENCO) at Devonshire Infant School celebrated her team's achievements at the trophy giving.

Lisa joined Devonshire Infant School as a teaching assistant. Before this, she had worked as a nursery manager but wanted to teach primary aged children. After qualifying as a teacher at the school, she progressed to become an inclusion centre manager, supporting children with special needs. Lisa said: 

(Left to right - Catherine Rhian Evans, Rachel Conway, Cathie Harris, Deena Atkinson, Paulette Tuson, Lisa Adams, Samantha Cooper, Caroline Baxter and Karen Hunter - Devonshire Infant School)

"I didn't realise how quickly time flies but it certainly has. The last 20 years in education has taught me how important it is to challenge yourself. There are so many rewards when working with children with special educational needs and disabilities - it's difficult to list them all.

"My main one is knowing that you've helped a child take a step towards a more independent life. The children I work with have many challenges - so the smallest spark of progress is a wonderful feeling." 

Lisa Adams

The criteria for the long service award means that only those who have worked in Portsmouth for 20 years or more can be put forward for the award. If they have worked elsewhere during this time, school staff cannot be included. 

Johannes Wessels, deputy head teacher at Langstone Junior School has worked across Portsmouth for two decades. Originally working at The Victory Primary School as a year six teacher and attendance and behaviour lead. For the last 13 years, he has worked at Langstone Junior School. Johannes said:

(Left to right - Suzan Phillips, Faye Sexton, Stephne Wessels, Johannes Wessels - Langstone Junior Academy)

"I can't quite believe I am now celebrating two decades in education but it's certainly been an incredible experience. Since becoming deputy head teacher 11 years ago, I have had the pleasure of working with different teams who support our children in unique ways.

"Education might have changed over the years but our aspirations for children have not. I am proud of what we have achieved and continue to achieve every day. This event cements that, and acknowledges the hard work we all put in, to ensure pupils thrive."

Johannes Wessels

View photos from the big celebration

Thank you to everyone who helped us celebrate long service. View photos from the day and see if you can spot your colleagues on the Teach Portsmouth website.

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