Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

‘Pioneering’ island teacher is first recipient of national award

Saroj Lal award
Theophilus “Theo” Ogbhemhe has been recognized for his commitment to promoting equality and diversity in the classroom. Supplied by Orkney Photographic

Theophilus “Theo” Ogbhemhe has been recognized for his commitment to promoting equality and diversity in the classroom.

The Kirkwall Grammar School teacher becomes the first recipient of the General Teaching Council for Scotland’s Saroj Lal award.

The award recognises a teacher in Scotland who shows a “pioneering spirit” for going “above and beyond in their efforts to fight for the cause of equality and diversity”.

Mr Ogbhemhe’s contributions range from integrating diversity education into his curriculum to helping organise community fundraisers and awareness campaigns.

‘Making noise’ against discrimination

Mr Ogbhemhe has had a hand in numerous school and community diversity events, in which his students play a major role.

He organises Kirkwall Grammar’s yearly LGBT+ events, motivating students to raise money for the Stonewall Scotland charity.

After the murder of George Floyd, he helped organise the ‘Orkney Oot wae Racism’ group.

He and the members of his Consciousness Afterschool Club also organised what they call “Making Noise” music festivals.

I have always believed in working towards a world where the system shows no bias to a race or class.”

-Theo Ogbhemhe

The goal of each festival is to raise awareness of a different type of discrimination, he said.

Students who help organise the festivals learn skills that help them in and out of the classroom.

Mr Ogbhemhe regularly works with his students on community campaigns for equality and justice. Supplied by Orkney Photographic

“It has been an experience that has taught its members – who range from learners across all classes, abilities and those with additional support needs – to work successfully with and value the contributions of others.”

Over the years, Mr Ogbhemhe’s club has ‘made noise’ against racism, homophobia, suicide’ and discrimination of all kinds.

Equality as a ‘way of being’

The award panel praised Mr Ogbhemhe for his wholesale adoption of the cause of equality.

“What was clear from our meeting with you is that the work you do to promote equality and challenge discrimination is your ‘way of being.’ it is not separate to who you are as an individual or as a teacher.”

Theo Ogbhemhe teaches Religious, Moral and Philosophical Studies at Kirkwall Grammar School. Supplied by Orkney Photographic

Mr Ogbhemhe encourages his students to take action in promoting equality and understanding.

“Inequality damages society and so does discrimination, and I have always believed in working towards a world where the system shows no bias to a race or class.

“I have tried to ensure that everyone feels valued and respected at my place of work and the local community.”

Saroj Lal Award carries a legacy of ‘trailblazing’

The award was created this year in honour of Saroj Lal, who was described as a “trailblazing teacher and campaigner in Scottish race relations.”

Born and educated in India, she migrated to the UK in the late 1960s. She was among the earliest Asian primary school teachers in Scotland and worked tirelessly to promote ethnic and gender equality.

The award is in honour of Saroj Lal. Supplied by Vineet Lal

Her son, Vineet Lal, sat on the award panel. He said Theo was a fitting first recipient of the award that carries his mother’s name.

“Theo embodies the pioneering spirit the award recognises in every possible way. His commitment to his learners, school and wider community is outstanding, and he is an inspiration to us all.

“It’s wonderful, and immensely moving, to see her legacy live on through this award and Theo’s passion for embracing diversity and equality in everything he does.”

Read more from the Schools and Family team

Wendy’s Wander: Teacher climbing Ben Nevis for cancer charity to honour friend

Save our Puddings: What exactly did campaigner William, 11, say to get custard back on the school menu?

‘If you can’t get connected, it’s no use’: Island education boss on Covid internet struggles for pupils

Already a subscriber? Sign in

[[title]]

[[text]]