Germany's foreign office has handed a prestigious award to a Saffron Walden teacher.

Erica Schwiening, who taught at Saffron Walden County High School for 34 years, received a German Teacher of the Year award for running first-class and "inspiring" lessons both inside and outside the classroom.

Erica said she is "honoured" to win the prize along with three more teachers in West Lothian, Hampshire and Liverpool.

She said: "Learning a language opens so many doors and widens our experience and appreciation of the world.

"It has been such a pleasure to pass my passion for German on to students at the County High, and see their joy in learning to understand and communicate in another language.

"I feel very honoured to have received this award."

Erica began teaching at the school in 1987 and left teaching this summer.

A spokesperson from Germany's Federal Foreign Office said the awards showcase excellent language teaching in the UK.

The German Teacher of the Year awards are normally presented by the German Ambassador to the UK at a London ceremony, but were presented online in 2021.

German ambassador to the UK Andreas Michaelis said: "The ongoing decline in the numbers of pupils studying German in the UK is truly sobering.

"It is therefore particularly important to pay tribute to all the schools and teachers who work tirelessly to encourage and champion language learning – especially in challenging times like these.

"Teachers of German are key custodians of our bilateral relations.

"My heartfelt congratulations go to all the winners and nominees."

Polly Lankester, Saffron Walden County High School headteacher, said: "We are delighted that Erica has won this prestigious award.

"Erica has inspired so many students, giving them a love of the German language and culture.

"Students and teachers at County High know how lucky they have been to work with Erica.

"We are grateful to her for her wonderful lessons and her commitment to extra-curricular activities and trips."

Erica won the award alongside Linda McLean from West Calder High School, Stamatia Kalogeropoulou from Farnborough Sixth Form College, and Alexandra Brown from King David High School, Liverpool.