Open Eye: OU graduate earns first teaching 'Oscar'

National prize for classroom performance

Lynda Ratcliff's teaching "Oscar" - for classroom performance and managerial skills in special needs teaching in the first-ever National Teaching Awards - came after almost 20 years in a job she never expected to do.

"I didn't start out with the intention of being a teacher at all," she says.

"I went to Art School and wanted to study fine art and my interest in teaching was only sparked when I had Leon [her eldest son] and became interested in child care. I got involved in pre-school play groups, mother and toddler groups, and local play schemes during the holidays and it really evolved from that."

Her interest in education having been sparked, Lynda did a teaching certificate at her local college and went into teaching full time. Soon after she had her second son, Jonathan, and it was while she was at home looking after him that her love affair with the OU started.

"It is absolutely tremendous. The materials are superb, the tutors are excellent and it's very stimulating. It challenges your mind and helps you develop so many skills you put to use in other areas of your life - organisational skills and time management skills in particular," she says.

After graduating with a BA, Lynda became interested in special needs education and after returning to work she studied for the OU Advanced Diploma in Special Needs.

She then decided to study for an MA, going part-time at work in order to do justice to both her job and her studying. She focussed on language, literacy and learning difficulties, and on returning to work full-time three years later took on the role as special needs co-ordinator at Parkfield Junior Infants School in Birmingham. She also became the Key Stage 1 co- ordinator at the school.

Lynda spends one day a week on administration and four days in the classroom teaching some of the 139 children at the school registered as having special needs.

"The majority of the children are learning English as an additional language and while this positively enhances their education some do need extra support to help them fully participate in classes," she says.

After her BA, MA, and advanced diploma from the OU, Lynda is about to embark on an EdD, and is currently taking Educational Research In Action, in preparation for it, and is planning a pilot project into the implications of the literacy hour for children with special needs who speak English as a second language.

But, after a five year gap, how does she feel about returning to study?

"I've missed it, actually," she says. "The role I took on at work was a big promotion with managerial responsibility, so for the first couple of years I was really getting to grips with that.

"One of the main things about OU courses is that they are up to date so for the first two to three years I didn't feel I was missing out because I'd learned so much. After that I needed to update my knowledge of current teaching theory and reflect on effective practice and that's what the OU allows you to do, so I'm looking forward to the new ideas and new challenges the OU has in store for me."

Lynda's award includes pounds 4,500 for her school and a certificate and engraved trophy for herself.

" I was a bit shocked to be honest but I felt very flattered even to be nominated. I think the awards are a great way to celebrate teaching because, for so long, it's been an under-rated profession," she says.

Life and Style
A teenager boy wakes up.
Life and Style
It is believed that historically rising rates of alcohol consumption have contributed to the increase
food + drink
The erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey has already been blamed for a rise in the number of callouts to the fire brigade for people trapped in handcuffs
voicesJustine Elyot: Since Fifty Shades there's no need to be secretive about it — everyone's at it
Arts and Entertainment
Critics say Kipling showed loathing for India's primitive villagers in The Jungle Book
filmChristopher Walken, Bill Murray, Scarlett Johanssen Idris Elba, Andy Serkis, Benedict Cumberbatch, Cate Blanchett and Christian Bale
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Life and Style
Playing to win: for Tanith Carey, pictured with Lily, right, and Clio, even simple games had to have an educational purpose
lifeTanith Carey explains what made her take her foot off the gas
Arts and Entertainment
The White Sails Hospital and Spa is to be built in the new Tunisia Economic City.
architectureRussian billionaire designs boat-shaped hospital for new Dubai-style Tunisia Economic City
Arts and Entertainment
You could be in the Glastonbury crowd next summer if you follow our tips for bagging tickets this week
Husain Abdullah returns an interception off Tom Brady for a touchdown
nflLeague has rules against 'sliding to ground on knees'
Life and Style
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Kylie performs during her Kiss Me Once tour
musicReview: 26 years on from her first single, the pop princess tries just a bit too hard at London's O2
Arts and Entertainment
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    KS1 Teacher

    £21500 - £31500 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Would you like to work...

    Java Developer - web services, XML and API

    £330 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Lond...

    Maths Teacher

    Negotiable: Randstad Education Reading: Maths Teacher required to teach Furthe...

    Primary teachers required for schools in Norwich

    £21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Primary teachers requ...

    Day In a Page

    Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

    Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

    and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
    Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

    Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

    The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
    Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

    Last chance to see...

    The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
    So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

    Truth behind teens' grumpiness

    Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
    Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

    Hacked photos: the third wave

    Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
    Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

    Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

    Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
    Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

    Education, education, education

    TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
    It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

    It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

    So why don’t we do it and save some lives?
    This man just ran a marathon in under 2 hours 3 minutes. Is a 2-hour race in sight?

    Is a sub-2-hour race now within sight?

    Dennis Kimetto breaks marathon record
    We shall not be moved, say Stratford's single parents fighting eviction

    Inside the E15 'occupation'

    We shall not be moved, say Stratford single parents
    Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

    Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

    Talks between all touched by the crisis in Syria and Iraq can achieve as much as the Tornadoes, says Patrick Cockburn
    Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

    Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

    The Tory MP speaks for the first time about the devastating effect of his father's bankruptcy
    Witches: A history of misogyny

    Witches: A history of misogyny

    The sexist abuse that haunts modern life is nothing new: women have been 'trolled' in art for 500 years
    Shona Rhimes interview: Meet the most powerful woman in US television

    Meet the most powerful woman in US television

    Writer and producer of shows like Grey's Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes now has her own evening of primetime TV – but she’s taking it in her stride
    'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

    Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

    Jimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style