Sutton Grammar School, South East – Nino is Head of the Art and Photography Department. She is a USA Presidential Award-winning teacher and a recognised specialist in Blended Learning and Artificial Intelligence Art.
To help students make cross-curricular connections, and put the ‘A’ into STEAM, Nino created an innovative curriculum and is the first teacher to embed cutting-edge technologies (Stereoscopy, Artificial Intelligence, Robotics) into the entire art/photo curriculum from Year 7 through Year 13. Her approach aims to change students’ and parents’ mindsets about the value of the arts and potential related careers.
Within two and a half years, this approach has had a significant impact on the progress and achievement of her students, with all going on to leading universities, major scholarships and awards.
Using a drawing robot, Nino allowed students to explore the intersection between art, design and computer science. The robot has helped them learn about coding, robotics and automation, and given them valuable experience in using cutting-edge technologies essential to the future job market.
Sponsored by Nord Anglia
Woodland Nursery, London – This outdoor nursery for two-to-five year olds is based on the Forest School ethos that the closer to nature children are, the happier they will be and the more likely they are to learn.
The diverse Early Years team share a passion for teaching children in a natural environment. They make strong connections with parents and go above and beyond to ensure the best experience: flexible hours, help with accessing services and support for the entire family. They turn usual gender stereotypes on their heads; women use tools and make fires and men are promoted in a nurturing and caring role.
Everyday lessons such as phonics, recognising shapes, imaginary play, counting and reading, are transformed into immersive outdoor experiences as opposed to restrictive indoor sessions. Children are free to explore, question and challenge the world around them. In summer they make flower bombs and bug shelters and in winter they craft fires and cook vegetable soup, gently assisted and guided by adults.
Award sponsored by:
Pembrokeshire College, Wales – Currently the Additional Learning Needs Transition Coordinator, David has spent years working with vulnerable learners with diverse needs and has worked here for over six years. He is dedicated to ensuring that all learners have a voice and are celebrated for their skills and talents as well as their diversity. He has a wealth of experience supporting vulnerable young adults, including young offenders.
David dedicates almost 100 hours of his spare time each year to ensuring that learners are fully supported and coached to enable them to demonstrate their skills in competitions. He created and led on a first-of-its-kind event by implementing an independent living skills competition, allowing learners with the most complex needs a platform to showcase their talents, compete with peers and gain national recognition for their skills and abilities.
His infectious positive attitude and ethos around what can be achieved with a solution-focused mindset has a dramatic impact on all who meet him. From pan-Wales organisation to individual learners and their families, David is changing lives with his commitment.
Sponsored by Logitech
Fairfield Farm College, South West – Rachel is an exceptional SEND PE practitioner at this college for students with learning and physical disabilities with “a rare gift to enthuse and motivate children and adults alike”. A PE teacher of 30 years and a longstanding triathlete, she has changed many lives through her passion for the impact that physical activity can have on mental, physical and social health.
What makes Rachel’s story special is that she was diagnosed in 2014 with a brain tumour. She not only overcame several significant challenges following this, but now proudly races for Team GB in Triathlon, demonstrating to her pupils what is possible in the face of adversity.
Relentless in exploring new depths and determined to reach new heights, Rachel actively shares these aspirations and hope with her learners. She has personalised life-skill courses such as ‘I can Lead’ to make them fully inclusive, and supports pupils with the most complex needs to develop communication skills, promoting independent learning. She always focuses on how something CAN be achieved, not on what might limit her learners.
Award sponsored by:
The Performing Arts Team, HRUC Uxbridge College – This diverse, innovative team, branded Praxis Performing Arts, have prioritised an impactful, professional environment whilst nurturing and supporting learners, some who come from very deprived backgrounds.
They have worked hard to build external links over the past five years and work closely with a group of industry volunteers who contribute through workshops – online and in person – and act as mentors. The team also took the initiative to help combat the negative effects of Mental Health issues by organising a local charity (Give Space) to run twice-yearly workshops to the learners most affected with issues such as depression, anxiety and OCD.
The team, who all have current industry links, use their professional ties within theatre and music to provide excellent opportunities for learners. They each empower their students to perform throughout the college, in local theatres and in the community. They have a well-deserved excellent reputation with employers, the community and students, providing outstanding teaching, learning, assessment, and fun – all day, every day.
Many Level 1 students have progressed to University, Drama School and Level 4 courses.
Award sponsored by:
Bewley Primary School, North East – As Executive Headteacher, Maria provides leadership across The 1590 Trust. Until recently, she was a National Leader of Education and is also part of the Leadership Board for Campus Stockton Teaching Alliance.
The school motto is ‘Bright, Proud and Successful’. This permeates Maria’s leadership and transcends to staff, pupils, parents/carers and the wider community. Maria strongly advocates pupil voice and the child’s rights. She encourages children to shine brightly and be proud of who they are.
Being a Unicef UK ‘Gold’ Rights Respecting School is testimony to this – as are the roles and responsibilities given to pupils. Children lead weekly assemblies, are buddies to younger children and have their voices heard on a weekly basis at school council meetings.
Maria’s vision to develop the school’s grounds has resulted in positive outcomes for the children. She has added a Multi-Use Games Area and Trim Trail and continues to add playground climbing frames to enhance health and wellbeing.
Crown Hills Community College, East Midlands – Farhan became Headteacher of this inner-city multicultural college of 1,500 pupils in 2017. Bringing a values-led approach to leadership, he believes that the journey is more important than the destination. He has transformed progress and attainment for pupils year-on-year and widened their educational experiences to raise aspirations.
Alongside redefining the college mission statement and values, Farhan introduced new ‘tough love’ policies to improve standards, including line-ups and a strict late policy.
His mission goes beyond improved academic grades, with a deep desire for all pupils to be able to compete with their peers nationally in line with ‘aspiration – ready to take on the world’. As part of their ‘six-year journey’, all pupils experience cultural visits that include annual trips to a University, to London, to the seaside and to the Peak District.
Beyond the classroom, Farhan has introduced a Sports Academy, Morning Mastery and help with the local food bank and homelessness projects.
Award sponsored by:
The Hearts Project Team, North West – HEARTs project is led by a diverse team who support local schools in Liverpool to become more attachment- and trauma-informed. Hope School, a maintained special school for 68 children aged 5-11 with Social, Emotional and Mental Health Difficulties (SEMH), has worked towards becoming attachment and trauma responsive since 2014, a journey recongised locally and nationally with awards and an OBE.
HEARTs is committed to supporting children with complex trauma histories and attachment disruptions. Hope School saw an opportunity for wider collaboration with the local authority, through the Virtual School Liverpool, to share its expertise. A growing network of schools are now helped to recognise their strengths and implement a network-wide development plan.
HEARTs is peer-led, not top-down, target or tick-box focused. Collaboration takes time, requiring the building of trust in an often fragmented system. In just two years, 10 participating schools have become 32, thanks to Headteachers/Deputy Headteachers, virtual school Heads, local universities, clinical psychologists and external consultants collaborating to develop a robust model of embedding attachment- and trauma-responsive care.
Dumfries & Galloway Council, Scotland – Sheelagh started teaching in 1982 as a Home Economics teacher. From 2004, she was at the forefront of formal curricular innovation as Faculty Head for Language and Enterprise and later as ‘School of Ambition’ Project Manager for Castle Douglas High School.
In 2012 she moved to a wider quality improvement and support role, from 2015-21 with responsibility for 114 schools in Dumfries and Galloway, and from 2021-2023 supporting teachers across 512 schools in South West Scotland. She was tenacious in translating complex policy ambitions to be meaningful and practical for school leaders. Her considerable reach expands to schools, local authorities, colleges, Regional Improvement Collaborative, SQA and Education Scotland.
As a farmer and home economist, her work in linking ‘farm to fork’ and supporting young people’s learning with relevance and impact to their local community and the rural economy was ahead of its time. One legacy is that 14 of her former pupils are Home Economics teachers themselves today.
Sheelagh retired in 2023 after 40+ years of service to the education community across Scotland. Colleagues describe her as an advocate for change, standing out through challenging the system to better meet young people’s needs.
Award sponsored by:
St Oliver Plunkett Primary School, Northern Ireland – This primary school is set in a West Belfast area of high socio-economic deprivation, but school life here doesn’t reflect that. Children are provided with opportunities and experiences focused on creating a mindset that allows them to see themselves and their potential in the same way that teachers do. If anything, the high socio-economic deprivation strengthens teachers’ resolve to ensure that their pupils walk on a level playing field with their peers. Their holistic development is paramount, whether it be artistically, musically or physically as well as academically.
Fostering a culture of creating global citizens, children here benefit from strong international collaborations. Children from Primary One to Seven are even taught Mandarin. Artistic opportunities include tin whistle lessons, African drumming and violin classes.
A counsellor is employed two days per week, the school links with a community group to offer additional play-based therapy sessions for children recognised as needing that bit extra, and with a variety of local community groups to offer support to families struggling with food and utility bills.
Award sponsored by PiXL
Chiswick School, London – Zac started at Chiswick School in 2020 as a trainee Maths teacher. However, when a vacancy in Music emerged a few months later, and despite having no previous experience, Zac took on the challenge of revitalising the department and specifically, increasing participation. He brought a whole new way of developing Music. Within only a few months, participation had risen and the school was producing twice as many concerts.
The Orchestra has grown to 30, and seven bands across the key stages are mentored by Zac and his colleague, ranging from Year 7 to 13. They all have their own name and style and Zac has established a healthy competitiveness between the groups. He has overseen a growing choral group, who perform classical concerts in churches across the area and the rock bands have local residencies. The steel pan group also now perform across the area and have made quite a reputation for themselves.
Zac has also set up a scholarship fund that gives some students the opportunity to take peripatetic music lessons at school.
Award sponsored by:
Trinity St Peter’s, North West – Matthew is an exceptional teacher who inspires and fosters creativity. He tailors lessons to children’s unique learning styles and makes even the toughest subjects accessible and engaging.
He is passionate about promoting positive mental health and is the school’s mental health champion. It wouldn’t be unusual to see Year 6 children mindfully colouring, listening to soothing music with candles lit or doing yoga followed by meditation with cucumbers on their eyes!
Matthew’s unparalleled creativity and innovative teaching methods make learning here fun and exciting. He encourages students to express themselves creatively and think beyond conventional boundaries. His commitment to promoting kindness has had a significant impact on the school culture. His annual whole-school video celebrating kindness is eagerly awaited by students, staff and parents, embracing the motto ‘laugh more, worry less’.
His efforts have been recognised by ‘ITV’s Britain Get Talking’ campaign through his class Twitter account, which resulted in the children being on the ITV advert.
Sponsored by Randstad
Callington Community College, South West – Jo’s passion for Science is clear. From a deprived area of Bradford to rural Callington via UC Berkeley, California with a PhD in Herpes structure and beef farming, she has always wanted to apply the theory to practice. Her students enjoy her carefully crafted practical activities and are inspired by the way she relates her subject using contexts as varied from mining in Cornwall, to virus structure, to the sustainability of farming.
As a result of her no-nonsense lessons and exceptionally high standards, her students achieve some of the best outcomes in the local Trust. They even insisted that an Ofsted inspector come to see her teach a second time because what she offers ‘is exceptional’.
Jo runs after-school clubs for Year 11 and 13 students and runs the ‘Science Volunteers’, a group of Year 9s and 10s who volunteer weekly to improve the Science department and inspire younger students to study science.
Sponsored by Nord Anglia
Margaretting CofE VC Primary School, East – Over her 19 years here, Lorna has always created unusual and different ways to support children in their learning and confidence. Her inspiring learning environments and displays include turning the Year 3/4 classroom into a cave for learning about the Stone Age. She designs and makes props and backdrops for school productions and has taught adults and children how to replicate her creations. She also taught all children and teachers how to sew!
Lorna has supported a number of SEND children on a 1:1 basis. She currently supports a child with complex needs and has helped them to exceed their initial targets. She also runs interventions, covers classes when teachers are absent and teaches in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) class.
In 2019, Margaretting was awarded the best Key Stage 2 reading results out of all primary schools in Essex. Lorna’s contribution to that was significant.
She also runs the gardening club and is creating a school allotment.
Bridgetown Primary School, West Midlands – A midday supervisor since 2014 and Lead Lunchtime Supervisor since 2019 (also a cleaner/caretaker and part-time Teaching Assistant), Manjit leads the lunchtime supervisor team, line-managing 10 members of staff, “sprinkling her magic day in, day out. “
Manjit regularly addresses assemblies about expectations for behaviour at lunchtimes. Children know she is fair, firm and consistent in what she expects. She created a weekly award scheme to name eight children as ‘Lunchtime star of the week’. They sit at a top table with tablecloth, napkins, juice, fresh flowers, place mats and lights, all provided and set up by Manjit.
Manjit was recently appointed to a part-time SEN role, supporting a reception pupil with speech and language difficulties. Her impact on him has been huge, building his confidence, empowering him to make friendships and supporting him to engage with school life.
During the pandemic, she engaged the local supermarket to deliver food parcels for the school’s most vulnerable families. Post-pandemic, when the school struggled to recruit midday supervisors, Manjit delivered flyers to hundreds of neighbourhood homes on foot.