Teacher wins national award after nomination by deaf Alton girl

Saturday 25th June 2022 6:00 am
Award-winning teacher Hayley Fisher-Smith, right, with Isabelle Cavanough, the pupil who nominated her, and her mother Elise Cavanough.
From left: Elise Cavanough, Isabelle Cavanough and Hayley Fisher-Smith (Auditory Verbal UK )

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A primary school teacher received an award at the House of Commons after being nominated by a deaf pupil from Alton to whom she gave great support.

Hayley Fisher-Smith received her award at the Power of Speech event on June 14. It celebrated deaf children’s achievements and highlighted the need for investment to help them reach their potential.

It was hosted by the charity Auditory Verbal UK (AVUK), which helps deaf babies and children learn to listen and speak with a play-based programme.

Hayley, who now teaches at Ropley CE Primary School, was nominated by seven-year-old Alton girl Isabelle Cavanough and her mother Elise. She taught and supported Isabelle in Reception class at Bentley CE Primary School two years ago.

Hayley said: “I was so surprised to receive this award. Isabelle was the first – and currently only – deaf child I have ever taught but the support and guidance I received from Isabelle and her mum was invaluable.

“Working closely with the family and other professionals, including those from AVUK, was a great experience and I was very appreciative of Isabelle and her family’s thoughtfulness in taking the time to nominate me for the teacher award.”

Elise said: “Miss Fisher-Smith really did go above and beyond to not only welcome Isabelle to her class in her first year at Bentley CE Primary School, but ensure she was doing well too.

“It was a pleasure to work with her and share the things we learned from AVUK and it was her awareness, attention to detail and collaboration which also identified some issues meaning adjustments could be made to her cochlear implants, quickly avoiding Isabelle falling behind.

“She loves school, in large part to feeling secure, supported and understood from the outset of her school journey in Miss Fisher-Smith’s Reception class.”

Isabelle lost her hearing aged 16 months following meningitis. She is severely deaf and wears a cochlear implant in her left ear and a hearing aid in her right, but is keeping up with her Year 2 classmates.

AVUK chief executive Anita Grover said of Hayley: “Seeing her receive her award from Isabelle, who spoke to the audience from the stage at the House of Commons, was inspiring.”

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