Plaistow’s ‘electric’ Nathan wins national Teacher of the Year 2012

A Plaistow primary school teacher has been crowned national Teacher of the Year 2012 after judges said his classroom was ‘a magical wonderland’.

Nathan Kemp, a teacher at Tollgate Primary School in Barclay Road, was shocked to be presented with a Pearson Teaching Award by broadcaster Zoe Ball during a school trip to the BBC on Thursday to watch a rehearsal of Strictly Come Dancing.

Nathan, 28, told the Recorder: “I was just shocked, really. Zoe Ball coming out and saying your name, I was like ‘What’s going on? This is mad.’”

Nathan, who has been at Tollgate for six years, attended a star-studded ceremony hosted by Clare Balding at the Victoria Palace Theatre where he received a golden profile of the philosopher Plato.

Judges credited Nathan with transforming the lives of pupils in one of London’s poorest areas where 70 per cent of the children speak English as a second language but the same percentage reguarly achieve Level Five in their SATs exams - far above the national average.

Nathan said: “You’ve got to be open and look at different ways to work. Language is not the only issue, mobility is also another one in Newham with children moving in and out of schools.

“It’s all about looking at each child and appreciating that they learn in their own way. A phrase the Headteacher uses a lot is personalised learning and if you stick to that, they learn.”

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Headteacher Tom Canning OBE piled the praise on Nathan, describing him as “consistently oustanding and inspirational” giving the children he teaches “courage, confidence and aspiration to reach the greatest heights to become whoever they want to be for the rest of their lives.”

Even though his star is on the rise, Nathan still sees Tollgate Primary School as playing a key part in his future.

He said: “I love my job, as simple as that, really. I love the area, there’s a challenge every day.

“I want to stay at Tollgate because there are still elements to my job that I’ve not got 100 per cent so I just want to refine what I’m doing, really.”

But for now, Nathan is off to The Cow in Westfield Stratford City with his colleagues “to celebrate Newham-style.”