THE search begins in earnest for the heroes of education in Basingstoke and Deane.

Today, we launch the Basingstoke Gazette Education Awards, a new scheme set up to recognise those who play a part in learning across the borough.

It is a chance to honour some of the tremendous work that goes on in our schools and colleges at all levels, from those who volunteer their services right up to those who provide great leadership.

Now, the Gazette is seeking our readers’ nominations across a whole range of categories:

Nursery/ Primary School Teacher of the Year

Nursery and primary schools play such an important part in helping youngsters get into the learning habit.

And there are some incredible teachers out there who can tap into the imaginations of the youngest pupils in a way that opens their horizons.

Secondary School Teacher of the Year

When the baton is passed to the secondary schools, a moment has arrived when pupils learn to be serious students – especially if their hope is to progress on to university or another higher form of education.

We are looking for the teacher who has gone the extra mile to help a pupil or pupils to take another step closer to their dream.

College Teacher of the Year

As students move towards employment, it takes a special type of tutor to ensure they can prepare for the most important examinations of their career.

Teaching Assistant/ Support Staff Award

Supporting staff members are on occasions the unsung heroes of the classroom. By giving that extra help, they ensure that the day’s tasks are completed and individuals can excel.

Leadership Award

Any good educational establishment needs someone at the top who leads the way. It can sometimes be a lonely place, but success is often determined by the skills and the direction of the principal or headteacher.

Volunteer Award

So many schools and colleges are made that much better by the voluntary contributions of parents, neighbours or other interested people.

Their assistance, freely given, often mean valuable resources can be pointed in other directions.

Whether it is in fundraising, admin support or general upkeep, it is a contribution well worth making.

Community Involvement Award

The input from a community group can have a huge impact on the effectiveness of a school or college. Its integration with those who recognise the asset it is in the community is a prize to be shouting about.

Innovation Award

Schools and colleges are not only seats of learning, they are places where creativity is in abundance. We want to hear about where that creativity has been put to use for the benefit of the school or college.

Special Educational Needs Staff Award

Meeting the needs of children and young adults is what education is all about, but for those requiring special educational needs, the skill of the teacher can sometimes be so much more acute.

Science and Technology, sponsored by Queen Mary’s College

Science and technology remains a crucial part of the school curriculum.

We are looking for a teacher who has been able to inspire youngsters in this field.

Apprentice of the Year, sponsored by Basingstoke & Deane Community Leisure Trust

Apprenticeships play a growing role in the transition from education to employment.

We are looking for an apprentice who has gone above and beyond to show their dedication to their craft, their skills and their hunger for development.

Business in Schools Award

The inspiration of young people in the field of business could never be more important. We are looking for examples of where this has been achieved with examples of strategy and outcome.

Bill Browne, publisher of the Gazette, said: “Anyone involved in our schools and colleges can nominate, whether they are parent, pupil, teacher or leader.

“We just want to hear about all of the good things that are going on in education in Basingstoke and Deane.

“This is the inaugural time we have held these awards and we hope that they can be used to highlight all that is good in this important part of our society.

“Our thanks go out to all of our sponsors for backing us with the launch of this new awards scheme.

“All those who have so far, and will do so in future, put their names to these awards truly believe in education and they will add to the voice of encouragement that’s so important in this vital profession.”

This year’s awards event takes place at The Apollo Hotel on July 13th and nominations can be made up until June 1st.

To enter, please fill out the online form or complete and return the nomination form in today's paper to the Basingstoke Gazette office.