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Novus teacher wins prestigious national award

Novus teacher Aleta Blackall has been named the winner of a prestigious national accolade.

Aleta has won the Prisoners’ Education Trust’s ‘Outstanding Teacher’ award after being selected as the successful candidate from a six-person shortlist. The awards are unique, in that they only collect nominations from men and women who are currently in custody. More than 200 nomination letters were received from people in custody.

Aleta, who is a Skills for Life Curriculum Team Leader, was officially honoured at a ceremony in Cardiff. She specialises in basic literacy and does a great deal of work with Traveller prisoners, encouraging them to engage with education.

One of 22 winners on the night, Aleta (pictured receiving the honour from Jo Stevens MP) was nominated by three of her learners, who commented that her “infectious and bubbly attitude” inspired people in the classroom, and that she “sees and opportunity to give each learner the skills to progress both within prison system and upon release”.

She said: “I am very honoured and proud to have received this award. Some of the comments from my learners made me very emotional. It is only just starting to sink in.

“I have been teaching prison education for 13 years, and after all this time I still get a lump in my throat when a non-reader reads their first book, or when someone finally writes their name after struggling to spell it.

“These men, young and old, start in class sometimes not engaging or even feeling they are under duress, not engaging. Then, slowly, they become these wonderful, confident learners who engage and achieve, and you know that this person will have a better future upon release.

“I have a very good working relationship with the learners and it is wonderful to see them engaging with Novus. Once they take that first step, we can provide them with the skills and qualifications they need to find work when they leave prison and lead crime-free lives.”

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