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Former hostage inspires Trust teachers

Published on 01/09/16

Humanitarian and former hostage Terry Waite has told Inspiration Trust staff that schools are key to preventing the spread of fundamentalism and terror.

Mr Waite was speaking to more than 800 staff from the Inspiration Trust's 13 schools at a special event to mark the new school year.

Teachers and support staff from Cromer, Great Yarmouth, Lowestoft, Norwich, and Thetford gathered at St Andrew's Hall in Norwich for the event on Thursday, September 1.

During his address, Mr Waite - who was taken hostage in Lebanon in 1987 while negotiating the release of other prisoners - explained the circumstances of his capture and the torment of his near five-year ordeal.

But he also talked about his work since release, including working with schools and prisons where young people can be at risk of radicalisation.

"There are many young people looking for something to believe in," he said.

"This is an increasingly complicated and confusing world, and as teachers you have a very important role in guiding young people, and helping them see the things that bring us together.

"We are all part of one human race, and that is a very important thing to remember."

The event - hosted by East Point Academy principal Kevin Blakey - also heard from Inspiration Trust chairman Sir Theodore Agnew and chief executive Dame Rachel de Souza about the last 12 months and plans for the future.

Dame Rachel told staff - including teachers from Charles Darwin Primary in Norwich and Trafalgar College in Great Yarmouth, both of which open for the first time next week - that the trust had been named as the top school group in the country at secondary level, but still had much to achieve.

"We will be opening our National Teaching School at Hethersett Academy this year, and while it is based there it is a teaching school for the whole trust so that we can develop our curriculum, our music, arts, and sport, and our staff," she said.

The day included the Inspiration Awards, to recognise excellence across all the schools, with 23 members of staff presented with trophies by Mr Waite and Sir Theodore in recognition of their fantastic contributions to school life.

The day rounded off with a chance for staff to meet and swap ideas with colleagues from schools across the Trust, across 40 group sessions held at Jane Austen College on Colegate.

The award winners were

  • Central team: Lisa Battigan 
  • Cobholm Primary Academy: Jessica Smith, Dan Basson
  • Cromer Academy: Nina Torin, Jimmy Morrison 
  • East Point Academy: Emily Spence, Anita Bagley
  • Great Yarmouth Primary Academy: Rachel McGee, Sarah Harding
  • Hethersett Academy: Veronica Drobak, Sue Frary
  • The Hewett Academy: Kelly Turner, Emma Main
  • Jane Austen College: Danni Birkin, Sean McNulty
  • Norwich Primary Academy: Sophie Connell, Yvonne Wordley
  • Sir Isaac Newton Sixth Form: Shaun Watling, Jacqui Avery
  • Stradbroke Primary Academy: Richard Cosburn, Debbie Bartram
  • Thetford Academy: Jess Hunter, Cheryl Ward