Teacher from Shefford named Hotspur Hero for inspirational work with special needs students

Dan Gaze, a teacher from Shefford, has been named Hotspur Hero for his work to support students with special needs during...

Dan Gaze, a teacher from Shefford, has been named Hotspur Hero for his work to support students with special needs during the COVID-19 pandemic. Picture: Courtesy of Dan Gaze - Credit: Archant

A teacher who has devoted more than a decade to working with children with social, emotional and mental health difficulties has been nominated Hotspur Hero for going above and beyond during the pandemic to ensure his students had the support they needed.

Dan Gaze, who lived in Stevenage and is now based in Shefford, came through a difficult period in his own life in 2002 and went on to train as a teacher.

Dan, who has worked at a number of schools, uses the values of sport to help students with a range of special needs to learn and build their characters.

He has been nominated by his peers as part of the Hotspur Heroes campaign, which each week celebrates a different Spurs-supporting key worker who has made a big difference in their community during the pandemic.

Dan said: “I think it’s important every child should get every opportunity, whether they have special needs or not.

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“As head of PE I used sport as a mentoring tool – you create leaders, get people to lead warm-ups, use verbal and non-verbal communication to help them progress and get them to use sport to express themselves.

“Sport is such an outlet, especially in the special needs sector, because you can use it to teach young people about self-esteem and teamwork.”

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During lockdown Dan had limited face-to-face interaction with his students, but still found a way to continue his good work.

“It was vital for me to support them in the best way I could, being there to help the children of key workers and support the process of getting children back into school,” he explained. “We were putting together assemblies for pupils remotely. We had online teaching classrooms and I also went out to deliver free school meal vouchers – I felt it was important to do that.”

Dan has now set up his own business to continue supporting young people struggling to engage in schools and manage their emotions and behaviour.

On being nominated a Hotspur Hero, Dan said: “It’s just everyday life, it’s what we all do – be kind, come to work and help people. It’s quite emotional for me to be nominated – I’m very proud of this. I’d like to thank all the staff and in particular the young people I’ve worked with throughout my career. I believe this is deserved recognition for them too.”

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