Honour at last beyond her school for the dedicated Mrs Davies

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The Independent Online
MAUREEN DAVIES has been teaching five-year-olds in a run-down part of Liverpool for 32 years, unnoticed by the outside world. But yesterday, she became a television star when she won a national award for lifetime achievement, one of the first of 14 teaching "Oscars" to be presented.

She and the other national winners of the 13 categories in the Lloyds/TSB 1999 Teaching Awards were announced at a televised ceremony at Alexandra Palace in north London last night. Their schools will receive pounds 20,000 each.

The awards were organised by the film producer David Puttnam to raise the profession's status and morale. For grateful parents at St Sebastian's Roman Catholic primary school, 59-year-old Mrs Davies's importance is not in doubt. Since 1967 she has been coming to work each day "with a smile on her face and a new story to tell". She is now teaching the children of children she taught when she first came to the school. Her own grandchild is in the nursery and all her children went to St Sebastian's.

Tilly Coldicutt, 37 and now a dinner lady at St Sebastian's, was in Mrs Davies's class and has a son who was taught by her. "She hasn't changed. She's so dedicated. I've never seen her get bad-tempered."

Perhaps the biggest tributeis that all her three children have become teachers - and married members of the profession. She said: "I always wanted to be a teacher. I love children. The school is like an extended family to me. I still get a buzz out of it. There have been so many marvellous moments. That is the magic of the young child."

Government initiatives have come and gone while Mrs Davies has carried on giving children a good start in the three Rs. A glowing report on the school from the Office for Standards in Education said that she provided pupils with "a very good start in life".