The Bolton News Education Awards are back for 2023. 

Our awards celebrate the best in Bolton’s schools, from students to teachers to entire schools. 

Our Teaching Assistant of the Year, sponsored by The Bolton News, is Debra Leeper of Queensbridge Primary School. 

Mrs Leeper was nominated by one of the teachers at Queensbridge, whose testimony reads: 

"Debra Leeper is my TA and I don't know what I'd do without her! Mrs Leeper has worked at Queensbridge for several years and supported in several year groups. 

"It's clear to see that Mrs Leeper loves her job. She takes time to get to know each child in the class, their interests, hobbies and needs. 

"She will value and nurture these by building strong, trusting relationships, bringing in items of interest that she finds to share with the children, supporting them when they are struggling and displaying high expectations of the children and their capabilities.

"Her belief in each child gives them confidence to take on challenges in the future and builds self esteem and resilience."

Debra said: "I'm in shock, but I'm amazed really, and honoured to get such an award. It's been a long time since I've had my name on an award, so I'm really, really honoured and touched. 

"To even actually be nominated is something special, but to actually be a winner, I can't wait to share it with my family." 

On being asked what she thought when she heard her name called out, she said: "I was thinking 'surely it's not me', because here at Queensbridge, we've got fabulous staff, we're a big team. 

"Seeing the children grow, they come in very nervous, and to work with them and just help them on their educational journey. I love my job, it's the best job in the world. 

"It means a lot, it touched my heart that I'm thought so highly of, and by the parents as well, because that's what I aspire to be."

Congratulations also go out to Margaret Power of St Peter's Smithills Dean CE Primary, who was highly commended for this category.