‘Inspirational’ teacher remembered by pupils

: Pupils plant tree and dedicate a bench to former teacher Claire Shirtliff who died last year.' 'LOCATION:  Carlton J&I School, Carlton Road, South Elmsall
: Pupils plant tree and dedicate a bench to former teacher Claire Shirtliff who died last year.' 'LOCATION: Carlton J&I School, Carlton Road, South Elmsall

Hundreds of pupils gathered together to pay tribute to their ‘beloved’ teacher who died last year.

The youngsters from Carlton J&I school all raised money to buy a bench and tree to remember Claire Shirtliff - who died after a battle with cancer in October last year.

Mrs Shirtliff, 34, had taught at the school for 12 years so pupils planted the tree opposite her former classroom.

She was a Michael Jackson fan so the lyrics ‘heal the world, make it a better place’ were inscribed on the bench.

The children then sang the whole of ‘Heal The World’ in her memory.

Headteacher Maxine Smart said she was an inspirational teacher.

She said: “She was truly inspirational, even when she was having treatment she battled on and still came into school.

“She was a committed, dedicated and valued member of the school and was just so brave. The whole school, and community, will miss her greatly.”

Mrs Shirtliff discovered she had the tumour in April 2008 but she was determined to carry on teaching.

She was preparing to go back to the school she loved in September, but her condition deteriorated.

She took part in a series of charity races after having surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy for the tumour to raise money for MacMillan Cancer Support.

Her husband of four years Michael Shirtliff, of Wakefield, said she was an amazing person and was a caring and thoughtful teacher.

He said she had been preparing the classroom ready for her return, shortly before she died.

She had a talent for teaching arts and maths.