A TEACHER who helps struggling youngsters get up to speed with their reading has come runner-up in the Teacher of the Year competition.

Cath Gerrard from Longshaw Infants School in Blackburn was nominated for the North West award as the National Institute of Education looked to reward the top teachers in the ‘Reading Recovery’ programme.

More than 6,000 nominees were received nationally and winners selected from five different regions.

Reading Recovery sees qualified teachers take infant school pupils for whom typical classroom lessons are not working for one-to-one reading sessions every day to help them reach the required standard.

And headteacher Andrea Batley said Mrs Gerrard had done a fantastic job.

That despite only being in her first year of the Reading Recovery programme.

She said: “This role requires her to identify the children who are finding reading tricky and support them in developing the necessary reading skills to enable them to become confident and fluent readers. Mrs Gerrard therefore works with individual children all day, every day, with endless patience, great humour and fantastic dedication.”

The Reading Recovery programme sees children taken to one side for 30-minute sessions every school day for 20 weeks.

Mrs Batley said: “They have to be led by teachers, not teaching assistants, so it costs the school a fortune, but it is money well spent as it really does get results.

“Mrs Gerrard’s dedication to supporting the least able readers in school does not stop with the seven children each day that she takes for lessons.

“She supports other teachers across the school and all the teaching assistants.

“She models lessons, supports with tracking, suggests strategies and shares her expertise with great enthusiasm.

“This ensures all the children at Longshaw benefit from her great expertise.

“We are lucky to have her in our school.”