Thursday, 10 September 2009

Swansea teacher wins national award for German studies

Pupils at a Swansea school are celebrating the award of a national prize to one of their inspirational teachers.

Pontlliw Primary School's Ben Ford has been named one of the UK's German teachers of the year.

Judges included representatives of the Department for Children, Schools and Families and prestigious cultural institution the Goethe-Institut.

A spokesman for London's German Embassy said: "Mr Ford is one of the three winners of the German Teacher Award 2009.

"He was selected from a very large number of excellent nominations. All the members of the jury agreed that he was a truly outstanding teacher of German."

Mr Ford, age 27, said: "I'm not in teaching for recognition but I'm delighted that my efforts have been highlighted in this way.

"The real credit goes to our whole school community for being so supportive of us to make pupils from Years 5 and 6 aware of the German language and culture."

Swansea-born Mr Ford graduated from Swansea Institute, now Swansea Metropolitan University, and has been at Pontlliw since 2005.

At that time, staff and pupils were already working hard on European studies. Mr Ford called on his own German knowledge gleaned as a schoolboy to further strengthen Pontlliw's links with Germany.

He visited Pontlliw's partner school in the River Rhine city of Speyer and began taking German lessons at Pontlliw, integrating some elements of the language and culture into other lessons.

Pupils have held video-conferencing sessions with friends in Speyer and plan more this year. Teacher exchanges have also taken place.

Mr Ford said: "There are some differences between Welsh and German pupils but there are great similarities too- they're inquisitive, share interests in areas such as sport and computer games and are eager to communicate.

"Pupils at Pontlliw get on really well with their contemporaries in Speyer and we're keen for this working relationship to grow.

"Developing these links has helped build self-confidence and belief. It also means they are embracing new learning skills which will come in useful as they progress through school life.

"With German business being so innovative and influential, our studies may also help pupils when they enter the world of work."

Pontlliw headteacher Wynford Harris said: "Ben delivers many subjects across the primary age-range. He only has a short time each week in which to deliver German but the progress has been exceptional.

"He has worked closely with the headteacher and staff of our partner school in Speyer to develop new initiatives, create new projects and develop links between the schools and our pupils.

"His achievements include a German taster course for Year 6 pupils, the creation of interactive class resources and the promotion of collaborative learning between children and teachers.

"He has other ideas to develop German within our school and locality, including creating online video dictionaries, safe chatrooms and blogs.

"Our school is proud of him and the work he has done and we're delighted that his hard work and devotion to German here has been recognised with this award."

Cllr Mike Day, Swansea Council's Cabinet Member for Education, said: "I was delighted to hear about Ben Ford's award. He has my warmest congratulations.

"He is clearly an inspiration to his pupils as well as an inspiration to everyone who works in Swansea's schools."

Mr Ford is due to pick up his award in a glittering ceremony in Manchester on September 17.


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