Teaching assistants are not being forgotten for their hard work in this years Golden Apples Awards.

Staff up an down the county have been going above and beyond to make sure that pupils have been supported during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Here are the three finalists for the Golden Apple Awards Best teaching Assistant category.

Rosemary Glasson of The Whitehaven Academy earned recognition for the way she supported, encouraged and motivated students with her "can do" attitude.

She refused to let pupils fall behind during lockdown, particularly those with special educational needs, sourcing books for them to read at home.

Her popular accelerated reading classes have been vital over the years, and she wasn't going to let lockdown stop her.

Rosemary said: "Some of the kids who were learning from home didn't have books, so we sent work packs out to their houses.

"The SEN kids got packs from school as well. There was also an online resource with 7,000 books that they could use.

"A lot of kids don't read now because they're on computers all the time. The accelerated reading lessons in the library - where they have silent reading and a quiz on the book every week - is sometimes the only time that they are going to be reading for their enjoyment.

"It helps engage the kids."

One autistic pupil struggled with home schooling so Rosemary made daily contact on top of live lessons and remote learning to support him and his Mum.

On top of the support Rosemary provided for school kids, she was also a primary carer for her mother, who passed away earlier this year.

Rosemary added that it was important to her to keep in contact with the school kids through lockdown and that work helped her through difficult moments.

"I needed to keep working, but it was really difficult during lockdown.

"It was lovely to be able to keep contact [with the kids] through technology.

Sarah Birkett of Energy Coast UTC in Workington gave kids invaluable support with lessons and reading during lockdown.

On supporting kids during the pandemic, Sarah said: "It's been difficult. We're used to being able to support students face to face during all of their lessons.

"During remote lessons it was difficult to offer the same level of support, especially when these students are used to seeing us every day and we are a consistent part of their lives.

"I tried to keep in touch with the students as much as I could and I did some Zoom catch up sessions with another teaching assistant."

Sarah embraced all opportunities to facilitate additional support opportunities for some of the school's SEND students, and has given up her own time during Year 10 form time to lead literacy interventions.

Sarah added: "[Reading] opens so many doors to them. These kids have to sit exams for their GCSEs and if they struggle to read, they're going to struggle with their exams.

"It gives them a confidence when they can read and it gives them a hobby. It also helps them with their classwork, but most importantly it just gives them something to love."

Sarah, who also had to look after a young child of her own during lockdown has now had her role as an English teacher made permanent at the college.

Drusilla Farr of Pennine Way Primary School is another teaching assistant who made an "outstanding contribution" during lockdown.

Drusilla offered support to children learning from home and provided one to one support to those pupils with SEND needs.

Her communication with families during lockdown and advocating for additional support when needed has impressed her peers. She also helped to train new staff members in supported them through their learning.

A spokesperson for Pennine Way Primary School said: "Drusilla always has a positive attitude and never complains that anything asked of her is too much. All the children in her care are always smiling and laughing. Her energy is infectious and her constant support for our staff team ensures that the children get the best from not just her but every staff member. "