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North Herts
Education Support Centre

Herts County Council press release

Pupil referral unit in Hitchin scoops national award

North Herts Education Support Centre (NHESC) in Hitchin has won a prestigious character award from the Department of Education (DfE).

It was announced as the Eastern Region winner during the inaugural Association of Character Education (ACE) conference at the University of Birmingham School.

Children and Families Minister Edward Timpson presented NHESC staff with a plaque from the DfE and prizes of free events for students to attend. The awards celebrate nine outstanding practitioners in education, from each of the English regions, with an excellent track record in promoting the personal development of students.

The centre helps young people in Hitchin experiencing social, emotional, and mental health challenges and offers vocational learning and qualifications tailored to their needs.

This vital support enables students to become independent and gain invaluable practical life skills. Character building exercises at the centre include volunteering at the local food bank, holding an annual tea party for the British Legion and selling their craft and catering products on a stall at Hitchin Market.

The team at North Herts Education Support Centre beat tough competition from thousands of entries from across the Eastern region from mainstream primary, secondary, special schools and pupil referral units.

Julie Vernon-Hamilton, headteacher at the NHESC, said: “We place as much importance on students developing their social skills in order for them to become positive members of their local community, as we do their academic achievements.

“This award will strengthen the thread between all our students, past and present; it confirms our outstanding judgement and is important for all the staff that their hard work has been recognised.”

David Williams, Cabinet Member for Education at Hertfordshire County Council, said: “It is vital that young people get the support they need so they can develop the strength of character and confidence to make a positive contribution to society.

These awards recognise the great work being carried out at North Herts Education Support Centre and reflect the excellent standards of education in place throughout Hertfordshire.”