A TEACHING assistant with a passion for special needs has been rewarded with a prestigious title that puts her at the top of her field.

Stokesley School’s Helen Day is this year’s North Yorkshire Teaching Assistant of the Year, awarded for her supportive work as a learning mentor.

Established by the North Yorkshire Secondary Improvement Board in 2017, the accolade celebrates and recognises outstanding and inspirational practice.

A former farmer’s wife, Helen began as a volunteer six years ago and is now an advanced teaching assistant. She was nominated for her invaluable work helping students in school.

“I swapped farming for education about six years ago and as a mum of four always loved helping children,” said Helen, of Great Broughton.

“I have always been interested in behaviour. I like to know what motivates people. Many children are written off as ‘naughty’ but I enjoy finding the triggers for their behaviour so we can sort out a strategy to help them.

“Sometimes it could be a condition, such as autism, other times something that has happened to them which is causing them to have fears.

“I was so honoured to be nominated as I was not expecting to be. When I won I was overcome. I am so lucky to be doing this job which I love.”

Head teacher Hannah Millett said: “Helen thoroughly deserves this recognition for the exceptional work she does with the students who need extra support.

“She has such patience and empathy and so often gets to the issues that might be preventing students from maximising their learning opportunities here. Staff and students at Stokesley School are absolutely delighted with her success.”