TEACHING assistant Christine Hussey celebrated with pupils at a Didcot primary school after picking up a top education award.

Mrs Hussey, 46, a member of staff at Willowcroft Community School, Didcot, was nominated for Teaching Assistant of the Year in a competition run by Teaching Personnel, one of the largest teacher recruitment agencies in the UK.

One of 150 contestants in England and Wales, Mrs Hussey, from Freeman Road, Didcot, has worked at the 269-pupil primary school in Mereland Road for 14 years.

The judges were unanimous in their decision that Mrs Hussey had made “the most outstanding contribution to the teaching, learning and support of the children in her care.”

Mum-of-two Mrs Hussey said: “I’m thrilled to get this award – I really enjoy my role which has changed a lot over the years.

“When I started out I used to sort out the paintpots but now I spend time working with pupils, including those with special educational needs.”

Mrs Hussey, who is also a school governor, was nominated by headteacher Jane Hemery. She said: “Christine has made a huge difference to the children in her care. Without exception, every single child she works with makes progress.

“I cannot believe there is another teaching assistant in the land with such a strong work ethic.”

Luke Hitchman, 10, from Didcot, said: “From Mrs Hussey I have learnt about north, east, south and west and she helps me with my spelling.”

Bethany Stokes, 10, from Didcot, added: “Mrs Hussey is nice and friendly and helps me with my reading and spelling — she’s very helpful.”

Mrs Hussey won an iPad, a £50 voucher for the school, and a plaque, which will be presented to her in school today.