With 98% of teachers now using tech to deliver lessons, we are on the lookout for classroom innovators. Those members of school staff who integrate digital technology in new and inspiring ways to enhance learning in their classrooms and beyond.

Recent research from SMART Technologies found that more UK schools involve students in planning and decision making related to tech than their international counterparts. While 76% of UK schools reported that they’ve met their teaching and learning goals, compared with only 68% globally.

We introduced our Digital Innovator of the Year award category to recognise standout individuals using digital technologies creatively  to improve teaching and learning outcomes. Judges have witnessed some amazing work in this category in previous years. Everything from 4 year olds building augmented reality (AR) forest environments on their iPads, to teens flying drones over their heads!

Awards judge, Jodie Lopez said:

“Technology has the power to open up a world of opportunities to children of any age and ability. The stories we hear, and the impact we see in schools every year, makes it impossible to deny that technology can be transformative in education when the right people are given space to innovate and experiment.”

2022 Gold winner, Kalam Neale, of Barnsley college launched the country’s first ever esports college course and created a mentoring programme matching college students with primary children.

Presented with his award by One Show presenter and former professional footballer, Jermaine Jenas, Kalam said: “This recognition and validation on a national level is incredible. I’d love other teachers to see the amazing impact that esports has had on our students, and come on this exciting journey with us.”

The college’s esports course curriculum helps students to develop valuable life skills such as public speaking, as well as taking modules in digital skills, and health and wellbeing. Kalam’s vision has helped engage students who might have otherwise dropped out of education. They finish the course with confidence in their abilities, with many going on to higher education.

The 2023 Silver winners also form an impressive line-up. With Lyndsey Stuttard, of ACS Co

bham International School, honoured for her introduction of weekly interactive digital skills lessons for all Early Years and Lower School students.

And John Croxon, of Lea Forest Primary Academy, who has embedded tech across the curriculum, in the form of their Mac Suite, Podcasting Sound Shed and the TV Studio in the school’s Innovation Hub.

Tech innovation in the classroom doesn’t have to be daunting and expensive. Schools reporting better outcomes use a range of tech, from game-based software to collaborative and assessment software.

A simple initiative like increasing the number of iPads available for children to use can be incredibly effective. A 2022 Silver Award winner, Jenny Hinton, from Parkdale Primary in Nottingham took the school’s iPad provision from almost zero to near one-to-one availability. She has also become the go-to support and training colleague within the school’s Trust, providing examples of best practices and the theory behind it.

 

The Teaching Awards Trust is calling on school leaders to recognise this valuable and innovative work by nominating their colleagues in the Digital Innovator of the Year category.

Any member of school staff can write a nomination for a colleague for the Digital Innovator of the Year Award. We are encouraging nominees to contribute themselves to their entries for the first time this year, to ensure all their innovations and impact are included in the entry.  They just need final sign off from the head. Things to include in an entry could be:

  • A clear, jargon-free summary at the start with the main reasons for the entry.
  • Bullet points and sub-headings to make the entry easier to read.
  • Real examples that detail the person’s direct impact on learners and colleagues.
  • Details of the person’s impact on the wider school community.
  • Quotes, statements and anecdotes from students, parents and colleagues rather than purely data-focussed comments.
  • The wow-factor
    • Have they introduced something new for the school?
    • What causes do they carry a torch for and what have they put their personal stamp on?
    • Do they go above-and-beyond with extra-curricular activities, awards, or workshops?
    • What are the nominee’s values and principles and what makes them stand out?
  • What makes the person who they are? Include interesting details about their early life, significant influences, people, and events that might have inspired them to teach.

Teaching Awards judge, Jodie Lopez said:

“We are always looking for those innovators and the senior leaders who enable them. If you know someone who has a knack for finding the right technology to benefit their pupils, or is constantly at the cutting edge of what is newly available, or dedicates time to supporting colleagues with integrating technology into learning, then we would love to hear from you!”

You can enter here, and the entry deadline is 1st March 2024.

Sir Michael Morpurgo, celebrated author and former Children’s laureate, and President of the Teaching Awards Trust, said: 

“People of all ages will always remember that amazing teacher who made such a difference in their lives, whether that’s igniting a fire for their favourite subject or the support they’re received outside the classroom. Teachers and school staff will never know how many lives they have changed, or the impact they have made on so many children and their families, but our hope is that these awards help show them our gratitude, how much we owe them, how much we value their dedication.”

 

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