LILAC team’s purple patch in UK Awards
A south Belfast school group and a Holywood teacher have come away from the UK Teaching Awards with top prizes.
They were among 12 winners at the national awards which were broadcast on BBC2 on Sunday from the Theatre Royal Drury Lane.
The Award for Outstanding School Team of the Year went to the LILAC Team at Fleming Fulton School on the Upper Malone Rd.
The Becta Award for Next Generation Learning was won by David Stinson, of Sullivan Upper School, Holywood.
David Stinson and the LILAC team each received a gold plato at the end of the process which began with more than 9,000 nominations.
The LILAC team — Linked Independent Living and Advice Centre — based at Fleming Fulton School, is unique in Northern Ireland and perhaps in the UK.
Described as a “rapid response” team, it was conceived in a special school five years ago as an outreach team and has been running for the past three years, funded by the Big Lottery.
The team is an inter-disciplinary group of seven professional experts and works with more than 80 mainstream schools across Northern Ireland ensuring that the disabled pupils who have chosen to attend those schools have all their needs met.
LILAC has supported more than 120 young people in over 80 schools, including children with physical disabilities and conditions such as muscular dystrophy.
In many cases, student who had not been expected to achieve, have left school with top grades at GCSE. The team also helped more than 150 students from different schools participate in a concert at Belfast’s Waterfront Hall, by arranging access, medical back-up and setting up a canteen.
UK judges said they believed the work of LILAC was “opening new levels of acceptance across schools in Northern lreland for students with a wide variety of needs and abilities. In a society which has a history of division across religious lines we see this as a significant achievement”
SDLP South Belfast MLA Conall McDevitt congratulated Fleming Fulton School.
He said: “The school’s Lilac Project has been providing support to young people with physical disability and associated learning needs across Northern Ireland for some years.
“The outreach team’s work is truly pioneering and now it has been recognised with the Award for Outstanding School Team of the Year in Northern Ireland.
“The judges said their work is outstanding because they have engaged with young people, teachers and parents throughout Northern Ireland and helped each young person with a range of issues.
“All of us in south Belfast should be very proud to have such a special school and talented team in our midst,” he added.