A teacher from Falkirk has been named the most inspirational in the UK by a prestigious industry magazine in recognition of her work with deaf pupils.
Aileen Mullen teaches art to youngsters at Donaldson’s School for the Deaf and has helped a number to go on to win national recognition.
The 55-year-old, from Glen Brae, was the only teacher from Scotland to be nominated for this year’s Times Education Supplement (TES) awards. She travelled to the Park Plaza Hotel in London earlier this month for the ceremony with two colleagues - with little expectation of taking the top prize.
“I was surprised to be nominated and I was speechless to be shortlisted,” she said.
Aileen believes that every student can produce art and in her five years at Donaldson’s, the national residential school for deaf pupils in Linlithgow, has set about proving it.
Pupils who struggled in mainstream schools are now achieving art qualifications and subsequently won local and national competitions for children of all abilities.
One claimed first prize in a regional competition to design a poster for the 2014 Edinburgh Fringe.
“In the classroom there’s a mixture of children who are deaf or can hear but have specific problems or Asperger’s,” Aileen added.
“I think a lot of them lack confidence and it’s just bringing that out of them and inspiring them. I try to make everything fun.
“I always make sure that the kids pick something that they’re interested in. If a child has a particular interest, I will stick that into the curriculum to suit that child. Each child who comes into the classroom has completely different needs and abilities.”
Aileen, a mother of two, previously taught art at Falkirk College for seven years before joining the staff at Donaldson’s.