The model and the music teacher – ‘Inspirational’ Flis Kirk receives teacher of the year award from celebrity Myleene Klass
An inspiring Stevenage teacher has been praised for her dedication by being named ‘Special Education Needs Music Teacher of the Year’ by popular classical radio station Classic FM.
Flis Kirk, who teaches at the town’s The Valley School, received the prestigious award from Classic FM presenter Myleene Klass at a glitzy ceremony at London’s Barbican.
Flis was chosen from hundreds of applicants across the country after being nominated by the school’s performing arts governor, Helen Holford, and headteacher Corina Foster.
The awards – organised by Classic FM with The Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music and keyboard makers Casio – showcase the very best in music education, and this year coincided with the radio station’s 25th anniversary.
A panel of expert industry judges, including ABRSM’s chief examiner John Holmes and the editor of Music Teacher magazine Alex Stevens, selected Flis as the category winner.
Flis said afterwards: “I am truly honoured to have received this award.
“Working at The Valley School has taught me so much about the power of music and how important it is to offer young people, particularly those with special needs, the opportunity to excel, push themselves, find their voice and celebrate their achievements. I am fortunate to have had the support of the school and my amazing colleagues to build what we have today.
“Every young person, more than ever, deserves the opportunity to be a musician and I am grateful that I get to share ‘wow’ moments with my pupils every day.”
Flis has worked at the special school for key stage three and four pupils for five years.
In that time, she has built up a curriculum model of huge variety, listening to what pupils say they want to try. They learn to compose and to perform, to sing, to play guitars, keyboards, drums, ocarinas and a whole range of percussion instruments.
They also learn to make animations and stage sets and run their own radio service and recording studio.
Flis has organised ambitious school trips to West End shows and museums, and arranged for visiting professionals to come to the school to lead workshops or perform productions.
She has also initiated the Arts Award Scheme at the school and transformed the old school hall into a theatre space.
Every year, the school puts on a full show, including music, acting, dancing and a full stage set. Pupils sing solos and ensembles, perform on musical instruments and create their own compositions.
For her well-earned prize, Flis received a Celviano Grand Hybrid piano, made by Casio.
The judges commented: “Flis Kirk has worked tirelessly over the past five years to bring performing arts to the heart of the curriculum at The Valley School in Stevenage.
“Her work with key stage three and four pupils with learning difficulties – including autism and speech, language and communication difficulties – has transformed the life of the school and the lives of pupils, past and present.
“Running a single-teacher department, her imaginative approach to teaching has helped pupils overcome their barriers to learning – with the tangible impact not confined to the school. Her founding of the Arts Award Scheme at The Valley School led to the designation of a Centre of Good Practice in 2014 to 2015, the only special school to be nationally recognised as such.
“Flis’ inspirational teaching and tireless energy has had a direct effect on the confidence of so many individuals, offering them a platform in which to truly excel.”