A Hawards Heath teacher won the Lifetime Achievement Award for 37 years of dedicated service.
Howard Wood, of Oathall Community College, won the award at the annual Times Education Supplement School’s Awards.
One colleague described Mr Wood as: “A man of great gentleness but with a powerful belief in the children in his care”
Others call him “outstanding”,“exceptional” and “selfless”, but the word that crops up more than any other is “dedicated”.
Mr Wood has worked at Oathall Community College for 37 years devoting many school hours and much of his personal time to developing the students in his care, offering them opportunities that were not available elsewhere.
An “outstanding teacher” and award-winning educationalist, he has used his skills outside the classroom to develop a small on-site farm, which has become a centre of agricultural excellence.
The farm work is built into the curriculum across all subjects, it enables students with special educational needs and disabilities to fully engage with school life and achieve skills and qualifications that boost self-confidence and lead to the prospect of future employment.
Mr Wood said: “It’s fantastic to get the award, I won a teaching award in 2008 but to win it for a lifetime achievement is superb.”
He hopes that the award was in recognition of his relationship with and the affect he had on his students.
Teachers aren’t used to this, it’s a wonderful feeling,” he added.
The school says the farm’s success is down to Mr Wood’s “innovative ability” to attract funding, embrace the wider community and ensure threats of closure come to nothing.
He also runs a Young Farmers group with more than 100 members which raises huge sums for local charities, gives students a safe place to socialise and develops skills from public speaking to social activism.
Mr Wood retires this summer and his victory was witnessed by 600 people gathered to celebrate the sector’s achievements at the awards ceremony held at the Park Plaza, Westminster Bridge, on July 4.
Now in their sixth year, the awards aim to celebrate and reward the extraordinary innovation in schools.