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New River College's teaching assistant Chris Mozo is crowned the 'best in UK'

PUBLISHED: 10:04 20 November 2019 | UPDATED: 10:04 20 November 2019

Chris receiving his award from Dr Helen Saddler, Chair of the HLTA National Assessment Partnership. Picture: Anesta Broad Photography

Chris receiving his award from Dr Helen Saddler, Chair of the HLTA National Assessment Partnership. Picture: Anesta Broad Photography

ANESTA BROAD PHOTOGRAPHY

A learning assistant at a pupil referral unit (PRU) has been crowned the most outstanding in the whole of the UK for going above and beyond the call of duty to help some of Islington's most troubled teenagers.

Chris Mozo who works at New River College in Lough Road, near Paradise Park, was one of five higher level teaching assistants (HLTAs) who were shortlisted for the London HLTA of the Year out of 25 nominations received.

After winning that title last month he beat all of the nine other regional winners to win the Outstanding HLTA of the Year award.

Since he left school aged 16 Chris has done youth work and coached football but a few years ago he helped found the charity Jigsaw GC to run holiday workshops, counselling and one-to-one mentoring.

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"The idea was to give our young people more support out of school, and to target children who don't go to our school," said Chris, 35.

"Working at the PRU we are always trying to find a way of preventing young people getting involved in violence. I see some of the most serious cases of young people engaging in risky behaviours, who are getting involved in gangs and don't see a way out. They need someone they can trust and engage with to help them make better informed decisions when they are in the community."

He continued: "I also had a difficult start in education and I had a robust support system that kept me out of trouble. I'm not saying the services put in place by Islington and other charities aren't good enough but we need more of them - there can never be enough people doing this type of work."

New River's deputy head Michele Lambert who nominated Chris for the award said: he had "consistently demonstrated passion, agency, commitment and expertise" in improving the lives of children for the eight years he has worked there.

"However it is his kindness and desire to help young people in the community that is his most redeeming strength," she added. "His work does not end when school breaks up. Chris is deeply committed to keeping children safe and, providing them with opportunities to learn from each other and empowering them to take responsibility."

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