A teaching assistant from the school at Nottingham Children’s Hospital has been named the best in the UK.

Kathy Harwood, who has worked at the Nottingham City Council-run school at the Queen’s Medical Centre since 1995, was one of 11 teaching staff honoured at the Pearson Teaching Awards on Sunday.

The event, held at the Royal Opera House, was hosted by TV historian Dan Snow and winners were presented with their awards by a host of celebrity guests. Kathy was given her award by 2015 Great British Bake Off winner Nadiya Hussain.

In all, 11 Gold Plato winners were selected from across the UK, chosen from thousands of nominations made this year. Kathy won the Teaching Assistant category.

She said: “It’s fantastic to be recognised for the work I do, because I absolutely love my job.

“I feel like this award is not just for me – we have an amazing team here and work with some brilliant youngsters who inspire me every day.

“This award is as much for all those children and young people I’ve worked with over the last 20 years as it is for me.”

Kathy and the team at the Hospital School help children stay in touch with their schoolwork while they are in hospital, and their aim is to make learning fun.

Kathy, a Higher Level Teaching Assistant who works with children with brain injuries, holds regular cookery sessions with her pupils and is famous for her cheese straws.

She also regularly visits children on the wards when they are too ill to make it round to the school rooms.

Judges at the Pearson Awards said: “Through her outstanding professionalism and great personal charm she has become a much-loved and respected member of both of the school and the wider hospital communities. She works with children facing a variety of health issues, some of whom are extremely ill. She greets each day with a positive and creative approach, knowing exactly how to make each young person engage in school activities whilst bringing a smile to their faces.”

Councillor Sam Webster, Portfolio Holder for Schools in Nottingham, said: “We are incredibly proud of Kathy for winning this award.

“Teaching is both rewarding and challenging, but working with children in a hospital, many with serious and debilitating illness, requires a very special type of person, and we are proud to say, for us Kathy is that person.

“It’s great that her incredible work over the last two decades at the Hospital School has been recognised.”

The awards ceremony will be broadcast on BBC2 at 6pm this Sunday as ‘Britain’s Classroom Heroes’.