Anti-racism campaigner and Urdu language champion honoured at the ‘Oscars of education’

Lifetime achievement

(Asian independent) A teacher who fought for the rights of women and migrants, and for the recognition of the study of Urdu, has been recognised at the Tes Schools Awards, one of the biggest nights in the UK education calendar which was held on Friday 13th November.

Siddiqa Mubashar was posthumously awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award.

After studying a master’s in Urdu, at 26, she migrated from Pakistan to the UK, working first in community service supporting vulnerable Asian women, and becoming a member of the Rochdale Community Health Council and an executive member of the Council for Racial Equality.

In 1979, she found her calling in teaching and she taught secondary school students for over 40 years in Rochdale and the London boroughs of Newham and Havering. Former colleague Miriam Scharf recalls that, in the 1980s and 1990s, “those who taught non-European languages had to battle continually to get recognition…there were endless ‘micro- aggressions’ as well as outright discrimination”.

But Ms Mubashar always stood up for herself and her students. She worked tirelessly for the black, Asian and minority ethnic communities, and students with English as an additional language. She also published three textbooks for Urdu teachers, which filled a gap in educational resources.

Sadly, Ms Mubashar recently passed away but her legacy lives on: seven of her children and grandchildren work in education. Nominating her for the award, her daughter, Bushra, said her mother “was a true hero…the epitome of an educator: she was a diligent teacher, a patient mentor, a fastidious examiner and a successful writer. Her contribution to education, over 40 years, is not simply significant, it is revolutionary.”

The Tes Schools Awards judges praised her courage and determination, and her work to ensure that children had the opportunity to study community languages.  Tes editor Ann Mroz said: “This is an exceptionally deserving winner: she fought against racism and prejudice, and empowered generations of students.”

Siddiqa Mubashar’s daughter Bushra said:

“Alongside her relentless work championing Urdu and elevating its status as a Modern Foreign Language, she worked tirelessly for the BAME community, celebrating diversity and uniting cultures. Sadly, in July 2020, Siddiqa Mubashar passed away, following a long and difficult battle with cancer. As her family, we are incredibly proud that her achievements have been recognised and we are honoured that she has received the Tes Lifetime Achievement Award.”

Chief judge of the Tes Schools Awards and Editor of Tes magazine Ann Mroz said:

“The Tes Schools Awards are the Oscars of education, recognising and celebrating everything that’s great about our schools and school staff.

“These awards are for the 2018-19 academic year. It’s evident from the entries how hard and how imaginatively school staff were working to give children a great education. Since then, of course, they have had a pandemic to contend with. But this has only served to underline their commitment to the children in their care. They have worked their socks off to make sure children are learning and are safe. So we congratulate all winners but we also salute each and every person working in our schools today.”

The Tes Schools Awards were held virtually for the first time to comply with coronavirus regulations. In previous years the awards ceremony has been held at the Grosvenor Hotel, on London’s Park Lane.

For the full list of winners of the Tes Schools Awards, visit


Notes to Editors

For more information contact:

Katy Gandon

Tes Director of Communications

0780 181 3334

Greg Tinker

Tes Communications Manager

07977 522453

About the Tes Schools Awards

The Tes Schools Awards, now in its 12th year, celebrates the extraordinary commitment, quality and innovation shown by teachers and support staff across the UK.

Tes invites nominations from teachers and teams within schools throughout the UK that are raising the standards of education and making a positive impact on the personal and academic success of students and the wider community.

This year the Tes Schools Awards received over 520 entries from schools all over the UK. The awards have 16 categories, including primary school, secondary school, head teacher and best use of technology. Entry for nominations is free and open to state schools in the UK.

Katy Gandon

Director of Communications

Direct 0203 194 3004

Mobile 0780 181 3334