A “one-of-a-kind” school lunchtime supervisor, hailed by her colleagues as “selfless” and “incredibly kind-hearted”, has been announced as the winner of the Unsung Hero Award on the BBC programme The One Show.

Manjit Nahal, a midday supervisor at Bridgetown Primary School in Stratford-upon-Avon, was selected from thousands of nominees as the gold award winner of the Pearson National Teaching Awards, described as the “teaching Oscars”. 

The National Teaching Awards honour the exceptional achievements of educators and support staff and are run by the Teaching Awards Trust, an independent charity sponsored by Pearson and now in its 25th year. 

After being handed the award, Mrs Nahal said she was “lost for words” and “loved her job”. 

Michael Morpurgo, author and president of the Teaching Awards Trust, said, “We all know that a great teacher can enrich your life, can help you rise to the challenge, believe in yourself, find your own voice. I know that because it happened more than once to me. That’s why these Teaching Awards are so important.”

Mrs Nahal celebrates her gold award with her students. Photo: Stratford Observer 

BBC presenter Alex Jones helped students decorate the room that Mrs Nahal entered where she was presented with a trophy. Pearson’s Unsung Hero Award celebrates the everyday heroes working in schools and colleges across the UK who go the extra mile to make a difference. 

Gardener’s World presenter Joe Swift also planted an apple tree to celebrate Mrs Nahal with a plaque that marked her achievement. 

In the decade that Mrs Nahal has worked at Bridgetown Primary School, she has taken on many roles including working as a part-time teaching assistant, a caretaker, and she currently leads a lunchtime supervisor team of 10.

Mrs Nahal was also recently appointed to a part-time SEN role, supporting a reception student with speech and language difficulties. She has been commended by her colleagues for building the student’s confidence and helping him become more integrated in school life.

“Nothing gives me greater pleasure than doing my job for all the children and the school itself, and long may it continue,” Mrs Nahal said. 

Beyond her official duties, Mrs Nahal has consistently gone above and beyond to create a positive and enriching environment at Bridgetown Primary School. 

Mrs Nahal was praised for coming up with the “lunchtime star of the week” award system where eight students are selected to eat lunch with the headteacher at the “top table”. 

Each week, Mrs Nahal creates a fine dining experience for the students by providing linen, napkins, place cards, flowers, and lights. The award system is said to have been a great motivator for students at Bridgetown.

The “lunchtime star of the week” award system was Mrs Nahal’s brainchild. Photo: FE News

“She does it because she wants to make the world a better place,” said headteacher Lisa Pinkerton. “She really has made Bridgetown a better place.”

As the “beating heart of Bridgetown Primary School”, Mrs Nahal was recognised for her outstanding contributions to the school community at an awards ceremony hosted by presenter and radio broadcaster Gaby Roslin last month.

Gaby Roslin presented Mrs Nahal with a National Teaching Award. Photo: Pearson National Teaching Awards

In each of her roles, Mrs Nahal has gone to great lengths to support her students and colleagues, from celebrating students’ achievements to decorating teachers’ classrooms on their birthdays. 

During the pandemic, Mrs Nahal worked with a local supermarket to deliver food parcels to the school’s most vulnerable families. 

Demonstrating her unwavering commitment to Bridgetown and the wider community, after the pandemic, when the school struggled to recruit lunchtime supervisors, Mrs Nahal distributed hundreds of flyers in the local area on foot. 

Former headteacher Jane Tailby said, “In the 30 years I’ve been in education, I’ve never met a lunchtime supervisor who’s so kind and caring and always, always puts the children first.” 

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Zayna is an events content producer at Salesforce Ben, a freelance writer at LeadGeneratorsDigital, and a journalist at Good News Shared. She hopes to cast light on the ripple effect of small acts of kindness that lead to great waves of change.

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