Gurnimrat Sidhu, a teacher at Oaks Park High School in Ilford, is among the 12 teachers honoured as ‘inspirational teachers’ by the University of Oxford as part of an awards scheme designed to recognise excellent teachers from state schools and colleges.
The teachers were recognised for their efforts to support pupils who were successful in getting places at Oxford. The awardees were nominated by current first-year students at the prestigious university.
The universities of Oxford and Cambridge have long faced criticism that most of their students come from fee-paying private schools and less from state schools. The teachers honoured are from state schools from where students gained admission to Oxford.
Sidhu was nominated by student Esther Odejimi, who said, “Miss Sidhu, hands down, is the most inspirational, supportive and selfless teacher that I have ever had the privilege to be taught by and spend time with.”
She added: “When applying to Oxford University was just a thought, Miss Sidhu was one of the people that instilled the vision within me and continually reassured me that I was academically adequate to thrive at an institution like this, despite my socio-economic background. Whenever I needed her in any way, shape or form, she never failed to let me know that she was always there for me, regardless of what my need was.”
Sidhu said, “I feel truly blessed that I have the opportunity to work with young people every day at such a vital time in their lives. Teaching, like any profession, has its difficulties but to me the satisfaction at the end of each day is a reward in itself.”
She added, “Often young people just need a small nudge in the right direction, or for someone to tell them that they believe in them, and that can become a driving force that leads them to follow their dreams.”
The winning teachers received a trophy, a certificate and a £100 book token donated by Oxford University Press, a department of the university.