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 winner of New Teacher of the Year, sponsored by The University of Bolton, is Neil Bembridge of St Catherine's Academy. 

Having started as a teacher at the school just over a year ago, Mr Bembridge is described as a "breath of fresh air" by his colleagues. 

One testimony reads: "(Mr Bembridge) brings his vibrant personality to his role, providing a fun and engaging classroom environment, ensuring students within the provision enter each day excited about the prospect of what they will learn.

"Parents of the students within his class have commented on his positive impact on their children in such a short space of time.

"Following parents evening, a number of parents praised our winner for supporting not only their child’s academic learning, but also seeking innovative activities to support students SEMH needs.

"This has been vital in engaging students learning, and providing guidance to the parents on how they can best provide this same care to their children." 

It adds: "Additionally, other parents stated their children look forward to coming to school each day, and many of his class have 100% attendance. 

"(He) wears a bow tie each day, and the students excitedly look at the colourful patterns when they arrive.

"Within a recent Design Technology lesson, he used their interest in this to harvest their creativity by setting a challenge to design a new bow tie. He then made the winning bow tie into a wearable item, and proudly wore this for the students to see." 

Mr Bembridge said: "I'm absolutely shocked, but thrilled at the same time. I think if you are rewarded for doing something that you love...

"Loving your job is a privilege anyway and working here is a privilege, and then to be awarded for your work, it is the icing on the cake. I am very, very, proud at the minute. 

"Educating the young minds. Where I work is in the foundation unit, in reception, you are laying the foundations for children to thrive. I don't think there could be any job more rewarding than that." 

He spoke on how he felt when he was presented with the award: "At first I just thought "is it for me" and then I thought "no, it can't be". 

"Then I realised it was for me, and I thought people are cheering so I can't be that bad, and then the shock."

Congratulations also go to Abbey Glen of Ladybridge High School, who was highly commended for this award.