Award-winning Wigan teacher reveals all - from meeting the stars of Strictly Come Dancing to her love of crumpets
An award-winning Wigan teacher has described a visit from Strictly Come Dancing stars and a message from singer Rod Stewart as the most bizarre things to happen at her school.
Jackie Birch, assistant principal and year two teacher at St Peter’s CE Primary School in Hindley, was named as the Teacher of the Year in a Primary School at the Pearson National Teaching Awards in 2021.
She was put forward for the honour by headteacher Nicola Green, after a parent contacted the school to praise Mrs Birch.
Selected from thousands of nominations, she was announced as the winner on BBC1’s The One Show by Strictly dancer Katya Jones, before she attended a glittering awards ceremony in London.
One year on from her success, Mrs Birch has revealed some of the secrets to “the best job in the world” – as well as her love of crumpets – in an interview with the Department for Education.
What did you learn in teacher training that you use every day?
I've been teaching for 17 years and all of my skills have been built on. I feel that I'm now a more creative teacher in the approaches and the activities that children carry out.
What’s your favourite prop to use in teaching?
My favourite prop is probably... using my spectacles. I use them to look for “SPECtacular” work and children will also look for really good examples of what our focus has been.
What’s the most interesting thing in this room?
It has to be Perseverance Pig.
Why is Perseverance Pig interesting?
He promotes those values – perseverance, resilience, trying your best and not giving up.
What’s the most bizarre thing that’s happened to you at school?
Last year The One Show came into school because I’d won the national Teacher of the Year award in a Primary School. We were surprised in the headteacher’s office when Janette Manrara from Strictly appeared on the television screen to surprise me. I then came into a hall full of children dancing with Katya Jones from Strictly and then I was given the award. Then I was sent a message through the iPad from Rod Stewart congratulating me on my award.
How did it feel?
Brilliant – it was an absolutely amazing day
We’ve heard you like crumpets, Jackie?
Yes! Two weeks after I won the award, I had an email from Marks and Spencer saying that I was the number one buyer of crumpets in the Wigan store for that month. Yay! Bring on the crumpets!
What is the funniest thing a child has ever said to you?
One of my year one children, when I asked him what he wanted to get better at in year two, said that he wanted to get better at splits... so I asked him if he went to a gymnastics lesson. He said, ‘no Mrs Birch! My split sounds!’
What would you say to someone considering becoming a teacher?
It's the best job in the world. We work hard, but to see a child growing in confidence because of what you taught them is the best feeling in the world.