A Sleaford school teacher has received a personal letter from Prince William in recognition of his stance on bullying and student welfare.
As part of Anti-Bullying Week, a competition called Power for Good takes place, which awards teachers, support staff and youth workers who go above and beyond the call of duty to help children with issues such as bullying, relationships, family life and mental health.
Hundreds of schools enter this competition where a panel of children decide on a worthy winner.
St George’s Academy Year 9 student, Alex McCarthy, nominated English teacher and Head of Key Stage 3 on the Ruskington Campus, Jamie Bennett saying: “He is kind and generous and makes people laugh. He sometimes sings funny songs in class and has pretended to be a dinosaur to make us laugh.
“He is very funny. Mr Bennett makes people think about others and how others feel. He gets people together to talk about issues so that it does not become a bigger problem.”
Last Monday, they received news that Mr Bennett had won and he was invited to the House of Lords on Wednesday to receive a special award recognition for all his hard work.
He also received a personal letter from Prince William, and has won, among other things, a number of new books for the Academy.
Mr Bennett said: “I’m deeply proud of the award since it was national, but student nominated - those things always mean the most to teachers.
“I think, like all of the staff at St George’s, I work to create a climate where students can discuss their concerns with staff they trust and that we educate and empower our students’ understanding of bullying through our language and systems.
“This is an amazing institution with a very talented and truly dedicated cohort of teachers; I’m very proud to be part of that.”
Mr Bennett added: “I have been working with bullying, student welfare and behaviour for the best part of a decade now so it was a truly lovely surprise a week ago. I’m still pinching myself!”
He was joined by Principal Wayne Birks, Head of Campus Claire Adams, student Alex who nominated him and a fellow student Josh Young for a tour of Parliament. They met Schools Minister Nick Gibb who presented him with the Anti-Bullying Alliance Champion of the Year Award and a letter from Prince William.
Mr Bennett said: “There were speeches from Monica Lewinksi and TV presenter Andy Day as part of the event so I was a bit star struck – I have three young children, so Andy’s a major celebrity in our house! He signed my son’s dinosaur encyclopaedia!”
Prince William says in his letter:
“I was deeply impressed to learn of your commitment to the wellbeing of the students at your school, in a difficult environment where young people are increasingly faced with challenges in life that affect their mental wellbeing.”
He said he cared passionately about young people’s mental health and had seen just how important it is for young people to have a person of trust to talk to and be guided by, without judgement, adding: “You have clearly gone above and beyond the call of duty in supporting your students over the years...you should be enormously proud of all you have done.”