A host of famous names are backing the Worcestershire Education Awards by sending video messages to our fantastic finalists.

The awards, now in their fourth year, celebrate educational excellence across the county and recognise those in the profession who go the extra mile for their pupils.

Once again, the Worcester News is running the awards in partnership with The University of Worcester.

Nominations have been made across 10 award categories - Lockdown Hero, Special Educational Needs Award, Star Student, Middle/Secondary School of the Year, Early Years Education/Primary School of the Year, Teacher of the Year, Independent School, and New Teacher of the Year.

Nominees were featured in the Worcester News and our sister papers - the Malvern Gazette, Evesham Journal, Bromsgrove & Droitwich Advertiser, Kidderminster Shuttle and Redditch Advertiser - throughout November and December.

The finalists will be announced in a special supplement printed in the Worcester News on Thursday (February 3).

They will also receive messages from celebrities including children’s TV legend Paul Chuckle, actor Alan Fletcher - best known as Dr Karl Kennedy from Neighbours, Olympic swimmer Rebecca Adlington and TV presenter Ben Fogle.

Rugby star Matt Dawson, actor Ralf Little, Olympic runner Sir Mo Farah, former England goalkeeper David Seaman, talk show host Jerry Springer and comedian Jason Manford have also recorded messages.

The virtual awards ceremony itself takes place on Thursday, February 24 live on the Worcester News Facebook page.

Launching the 2022 awards back in October, regional editor Stephanie Preece said: “It’s been an incredibly tough time for all of those involved in education as our community battled a pandemic and subsequent lockdown, and was forced to adapt our very way of life.

“That’s why we have once again teamed up with the University of Worcester to launch the fourth Worcestershire Education Awards scheme and shine a spotlight on those who continue to make a difference.”

Catriona Robinson, acting head of the university’s School of Education, said: “Outstanding educators are critical to our children’s futures and never more has it been so important to ensure our children have the best education they can get, as we recover from the impacts of the last 18 months.”