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Ruth Awarded OBE

Ruth has been awarded Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in today’s Queen’s Birthday Honours list for services to education and disability.

Ruth has worked at Heathermount, a non-maintained special day school for children and young people aged 5-19 who have complex autism, for over two decades and has led it for the past four years, as well as training teachers all over the country in the support of students with autism.

Ruth says: “I am thrilled and overwhelmed! I have loved working at Heathermount and, more recently, leading the school. I have learned so much from our students over the years. They are our best teachers.

She adds: “I have a fabulous staff team and strong support from our Governors, from our parent charity The Disabilities Trust and, of course, from my family.”

The CEO of The Disabilities Trust, Irene Sobowale, said “We are absolutely delighted to see Ruth’s dedication recognised in this way – she is an amazing ambassador for the school and we are very proud indeed of all she has achieved.”

Having worked as a teaching assistant in a mainstream primary school for six years, Ruth joined Heathermount in 1996 as a residential support worker; promoted to senior support worker after 2 years, at the same time she studied for an Open University degree in Natural Sciences with a view to becoming a teacher.  She was given the opportunity to further this ambition at Heathermount and gained qualified teacher status (QTS) in 2002.

Within a couple of years, she became department co-ordinator for the secondary department and then decided to study for a postgraduate qualification in specific learning difficulties (dyslexia) with Kingston University while continuing to teach part-time.

In December 2006 she was appointed as Acting Assistant Head and this post was made permanent in July 2007. In April 2013, she was appointed as head teacher to bring some stability to the school, which was subsequently rated as ‘Good’ by OfSTED. 

Having been given significant development opportunities at Heathermount, she is passionate about offering similar opportunities to the team wherever possible, and has supported several staff along the route into obtaining QTS.

During her time at Heathermount, she also became an International Course Leader for Sherborne Developmental Movement (based on the work of Veronica Sherborne, which uses movement to help with self awareness and the building of relationships) which took her up and down the country training staff in many other schools.

She has also delivered training in autism to other schools and organisations.

Ruth retires in July 2017 and Jane Jackson will take over as Headteacher in September; the school is owned and run by national charity The Disabilities Trust and currently has 52 students and over 40 staff.