A TEACHER who has taught thousands of children over almost 50 years has been given a lifetime achievement award.

Hilary Shergold, aged 70, was presented with the accolade at the TES School Awards on Friday (June 17).

She has clocked up 48 years in the State sector and is still going strong in her first year in the classroom at Millfield School in Street.

She started teaching aged 23, at Rednock School, Dursley, then Ansford School, Castle Cary, before spending 43 years at The Blue School, in Wells.

Her commitment to going above and beyond was clear from the outset when she set up a school bookshop to encourage reading.

And then, spotting the need for vocational courses, she created a business department, enrolling at university a day a week retrain.

By the 1980s, she was teaching English, business and computing, as well as offering A-level English to prisoners at Leyhill Prison.

Her instinct is always to think divergently, offering young people the right courses for changing times, from leading on establishing NVQs in The Blue School (the only school in the country to do so) and piloting GNVQ qualifications in business and leisure and tourism and helping to initiate a City and Guilds professional cookery course.

Ms Shergold said: "I’m really surprised and delighted, particularly after everything we’ve all been through over the last few years. I have loved teaching since I started aged 23.”

Giving advice to teachers starting out, she added: "Don’t waste time doing too much paperwork, just get on with the thing you love - teaching.”

Awards judge Samantha Twiselton said: “There is such a mix of different ways she’s contributed over a long career, with a massive commitment to different curriculum areas and the school community, as well as the community beyond the school, in a way that is really heartwarming.”

Chief judge of the TES Schools Awards and editor of TES magazine Jon Severs said: "The TES Schools Awards are the Oscars of education, recognising and celebrating everything that’s great about our schools and school staff.

"We had so many entries from teachers and schools across the country. Choosing the winners was no easy task."