A ground-breaking teacher, who was brought up in Newton Stewart, will become a television star tonight after being awarded Teacher of the Year at the Pride of Britain Awards 2015.
Elaine Wyllie, head teacher at St Ninian’s Primary School in Stirling, was nominated for the award following her work on the ‘Daily Mile’ – an initiative she pioneered in her own school almost four years ago and which has now been adopted by over 20 other schools in the Stirling area.
Fifty-nine year old Elaine, who retires from teaching on Friday, attended the star-studded Pride of Britain Awards in London on Monday to accept the Teacher of the Year accolade, which will be aired tonight at 8pm on ITV.
Elaine told the Gazette: “The awards night was just sensational! We got to walk down the red carpet going into the Dorchester Hotel. The room in the Dorchester was huge there were 900 there. Everyone was taking selfies! The night before all the award winners staying in the same hotel and we became very close. Meeting them was a very humbling experience.
My husband was with me and at our table we had the Dragon’s Den judges. Duncan Ballantyne was very helpful. He gave me tips on how to say calm before I went up to get my award.
“What I didn’t know was, when I got to the stage, the screen switched to Buckingham Palace where ten of my pupils were there with Gordon Ramsay ready to run from the Palace with my award. That was a wonderful moment.
“I have very fond memories of living in Newton Stewart and going to school at Penninghame and the Douglas Ewart. I was born in Castle Douglas but we moved to Newton Stewart when I was nine.
“I’m a proud Doonhamer!”
Elaine’s maiden name was Stuart and her father was the police sergeant based in Newton Stewart in the 60s and 70s. Her sister Marjorie McCallie said: “We are all so proud of her.”
The ‘Daily Mile’ sees every pupil, from nursery to primary seven, runs or walks a mile each day around the school’s track. This unique approach to children’s fitness and tackling childhood obesity has attracted national and international praise from healthcare experts and is now to be the focus of a study by experts at the University of Stirling.
Stirling Council’s Director of Children, Young People and Education, David Leng, added: “Elaine is an outstanding Headteacher, who has taken a simple idea and made it into an activity that really works for her pupils. She has become a role model for all our schools and is rightly getting interest from across the world for her commitment to children’s health and wellbeing. We are really proud of her!”
Elaine commented: “I am very grateful for this award which came as a complete surprise, and for the recognition of the Daily Mile. The Daily Mile improves the Health and Wellbeing of all children, and all children can succeed, no matter their circumstances, age or ability. It is a joy to see the children come back from their Daily Mile apple cheeked, puffed out and cheerful, ready to focus on their class work.
“I thank everyone in the St. Ninians Primary School community and Stirling Council for their support with the implementation of the Daily Mile and I’m glad to see that so many schools and nurseries across Stirling, Clackmannanshire and Scotland are now doing it.”