The nation’s most inspirational Further Education teachers, lecturers, and teams have been honoured at a prestigious ceremony following a televised week-long celebration of teaching on The One Show. At the Pearson National Teaching Awards UK Ceremony on Sunday 28 November, fifteen Gold Award winners were celebrated for excellence in their selected categories, having been chosen from thousands of nominations.

The ceremony followed a week-long celebration of these education award winners on the BBC, which featured a different award winner each day on The One Show. The week ended with all the award-winning teachers, teaching assistants and lecturers being presented with their trophies at a glamorous ceremony at The Brewery in the City of London.

These inspirational FE winners include:

  • Melissa Tisdale, Walsall College, The Award for FE Lecturer of the Year
  • The PE Department, New College Pontefract, The Award for FE Team of the Year
  • Stephen Evans, Derwen College, The Award for Excellence in Special Needs Education

This focus on praising educators comes at a time when the country has truly recognised the vital work that schools and colleges do on a daily basis. The Pearson National Teaching Award winners have been honoured for their incredible work supporting learners across the country. Each award winner has repeatedly gone above and beyond their role to change the lives of their students and help them move towards a brighter future.

The Pearson National Teaching Awards is an annual celebration of excellence in education, founded in 1998 by Lord Puttnam to recognise the life-changing impact an inspirational teacher can have on the lives of the young people they work with. The 2022 Pearson National Teaching Awards open for entry on Friday 26 November 2021.

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 wonderful teacher who made such a difference in their lives. The teacher will never know how many lives they have changed, or the impact they have made on so many families, but our hope is that these awards help show our gratitude.”

Sharon Hague, Managing Director, Pearson School Qualifications, said:

“The last 18 months has given everyone in the country even more of an appreciation of the tireless work that teachers and the communities in our schools do day in, day out.

“Throughout the awards we heard so many inspirational stories of school and college staff who show such exceptional dedication to their students, to their colleagues, and to their communities. Congratulations to every award winner – they are shining examples for us all to celebrate.”

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi said:

“I would like to congratulate all the winners for this recognition of their amazing work and dedication to their students. Winning one of these awards is a terrific achievement, and is testament to their skill, commitment and passion for teaching.

“We are lucky enough to have some of the best teachers in the world and I would like to thank every single one of our education staff for their hard work supporting children and young people, especially during the pandemic.”

Pen portraits of the winners

Melissa Tisdale, The Award for FE Lecturer of the Year

Melissa has some of the highest achieving Media students in the country despite many students coming from socially deprived areas with historic challenges to education. Her success stems from her independent production company, Future Flames, where students gain valuable real-world work experience on external commissions, including filming and editing for the NHS. This means that every student can list their experience working with a production company on their CV when they leave school, which is invaluable for finding future work.

Melissa also created the college’s own film festival through her company, with this annual festival raising funds for the charity Mind – more than £1,000 this year despite all being online. Her students gain incredible experience through her work as well as the chance to put together a professional quality showreel to present to employers when entering the world of employment.

The PE Department, New College Pontefract, The Award for FE Team of the Year

The team over the last five years has built not only an outstanding track-record of  learner outcomes, but also a reputation as the largest provider of extra-curricular activities across the college. This includes traditional sports teams as well as unique opportunities for able-bodied students to experience Paralympic sports such as wheelchair basketball. The commitment of the department has led to many standout student athletes and stories of sporting successes. The department has produced students who play hockey for England, as well as Team GB swimmers.

Beyond sports teams, the department has run campaigns aimed at getting staff and students physically active in lockdown, as well as supporting their students’  on-going engagement in volunteering and developing their leadership skills. This year alone, twenty-four NPLQ lifeguard qualifications have been completed, while 80 students are completing the national CSLA and HSLA sports leadership awards. This means that over 100 hours of voluntary sports leadership is taking place in the community every year, led by college students.

The PE Department also supports students outside of New College Pontefract through their own YouTube channel, which aims to help students far and wide succeed in their BTEC programmes. Through this platform they also offer support with several smaller qualifications alongside BTECs or A levels, such as lifeguard certifications. They also produce a podcast which their students can take part in, where they can hear from industry professionals and get great advice on how to excel in their sport.

Stephen Evans, The Award for Excellence in Special Needs Education

As Sports & Leisure co-ordinator for a further education college which caters for young people with a range of learning difficulties, Steve’s students have a wide variety of complex special educational needs and disabilities. Many arrive at college believing that sport just isn’t for them. Steve’s impact on these students has been described as ‘life-changing’ as he works tirelessly to ensure that every young person is included in the huge range of activities he provides and is able to benefit from regular exercise.

His passion and drive has been instrumental in bringing the Duke of Edinburgh’s Awards to Derwen College, giving students the opportunity, motivation and self-belief to get involved with these challenging awards, encouraging them to strive and attain goals beyond their expectations. Thanks to Steve, disabled students who had never run before have completed half-marathons, and he has made a profound impact on every students’ life.

Full list of Pearson National Teaching Award Gold Winners: 

  • The Award for Digital Innovator of the Year, Emma Darcy, Denbigh High School, Bedfordshire
  • The Award for Excellence in Special Needs Education, Stephen Evans, Derwen College, Shropshire
  • The Award for Outstanding New Teacher of the Year, Hannah Lewis, Troedyrhiw Community Primary, Merthyr Tydfil
  • The Award for Headteacher of the Year in a Primary School,Reema Reid, Hollydale Primary School, London
  • The Award for Headteacher of the Year in a Secondary School,Michael Allen, Lisneal College, Derry (NI)
  • The Award for Teacher of the Year in a Primary School, Jacqueline Birch, St Peter’s C of E Primary School, Wigan
  • The Award for Teacher of the Year in a Secondary School, Abigail Chase, Bassaleg School, Newport (Wales)
  • The Award for Making a Difference – Primary School of the Year,Roundhay Primary School, Roundhay School Primary Campus, Leeds
  • The Award for Making a Difference – Secondary School of the Year, Wymondham College, Wymondham College, Norfolk
  • The Award for FE Lecturer of the Year, Melissa Tisdale, Walsall College, West Midlands
  • The Award for FE Team of the Year, The PE Department, New College Pontefract, West Yorkshire
  • The Award for Lifetime Achievement, Marie Lindsay, Saint Mary’s College, Derry (NI)
  • The Award for Teaching Assistant of the Year, Dorota Hall, St Edward’s School, Dorset
  • The Award for Impact through Partnership, Roma Narrowing the Gap Team, Queen Katharine Academy, Cambridgeshire
  • The Lockdown Hero Award for Learner & Community Support,Matt Jenkins and Jo Fison, The Deaf Academy, Devon

The 2021 Pearson National Teaching Awards are open to every school across the UK. The awards were established by Lord Puttnam CBE in 1998 and are managed by the Teaching Awards Trust, an independent charity. The vision of the charity is to recognise and celebrate excellence in education.

It does this through its public-facing ‘Thank A Teacher’ campaign, and through the Pearson National Teaching Awards.

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Michael Morpurgo is one of Britain’s best-loved writers for children. With a writing career that spans four decades, he has written over 100 books, selling more than 5 million copies in the UK and over 35 million worldwide. A former Children’s Laureate, Michael has won countless prizes, including the Smarties prize, the Blue Peter Book Award and the Whitbread Award, and was awarded an OBE for Services to Literature. Michael was also awarded an MBE in 1999, along with his wife Clare, in recognition of their work in founding Farms For City Children, a charity that has enabled 100,000 children to visit the charity’s three farms over the last 40 years.