Chair of the Panel, Sharon Hague

Sharon is Managing Director of Pearson School Qualifications. She is responsible for qualifications, assessments and teaching and learning resources for primary and secondary education in the UK and globally.  She has extensive experience of working closely with governments, schools and other partners to provide services that help children and young people make progress in their lives.  Sharon is an advocate for inclusivity both in the workplace and within education.

Sharon graduated from Oxford and trained as a qualified teacher and taught in schools in Essex and Hertfordshire for 8 years.  She is a speaker for the charity, Speaker for Schools.


Adrian Kneeshaw

The Award for Making a Difference – Primary School of the Year Judge

Adrian has been a senior leader for 17 years, working within the Calderdale and Bradford local authorities. In his eight years as Headteacher/Executive Headteacher, he took three schools out of Special Measures, taking two to ‘Good’ ratings and one to ‘Outstanding. He has also taken an OSFTED ‘stuck school’ to its first ever ‘Good’ rating. He is best known for his work at Carlton Bolling, an ‘Outstanding’ rated secondary school in inner-city Bradford, which gained ‘World Class School’ accreditation in 2018 and became ‘Secondary School of the Year’ in the 2019 Pearson National Teaching Awards. He is now CEO of Carlton Academy Trust, a five-school Multi-Academy Trust based in Bradford, which has just been invited to become one of the World Class Schools Quality Mark’s inaugural  World Class Trusts.



Dr Anne Bull OBE

The Award for Headteacher of the Year in a Secondary School Judge

Anne has returned to judge after a first period of judging in the South West many years ago.

Anne’s career began in Wiltshire in a village school in Worton and Marston. She went on to become the youngest Headteacher at the time. She continued in Headteacher role across other schools for 25 years, and won her Teaching Award in 2012. Anne is passionate about the Arts in education and was awarded a Bath Spa University Doctorate for Services to Primary Education, the Arts in Education and actively promoting and developing leadership in primary education. Additionally, Anne was  awarded an OBE for Services to Education.

Now retired from full time Headship Anne works as the Primary Advisor for a Cornwall MAT and is consulting as a NLE.



Anne Paterson

The Award for Headteacher of the Year in a Primary School Judge

Anne Paterson retired from her role of Chief Education Officer in Argyll and Bute, Scotland in December 2020 after spending 40 years in the authority. She is currently working as an advisor to Scottish Government in relation to Early Learning and Care policy development. Anne is a life long learner and is currently undertaking an Doctorate of Education with a focus on rural education. She is a visiting research fellow with the University of the Highlands and Islands. Anne was presented with an OBE for services to education by HRH the Princess Royal in January 2022.


Ava Sturridge-Packer CBE

The Award for Making a Difference – Secondary School of the Year Judge

Ava currently works as an independent School Improvement Advisor and was a Headteacher for 22 years before she took semi-retirement in December 2017.
During her years as Headteacher, she led her main school from Special Measures to Ofsted Outstanding and for her last 4 years of Headship was executive Headteacher, while continuing to be the substantive Headteacher of the school she was Headteacher of for 22 years. She took on the Headship of a local school in Special Measures which rapidly became judged as a good school by Ofsted.
Ava was a National Leader of Education until her semi-retirement. During this 10-year period she supported many schools in challenging circumstances.
Ava was part of the DFE working party who wrote the Teachers ‘Standards and has been a judge for the National Teaching Awards for the last 13 years.

Bavaani Nanthabalan

The Award for Outstanding New Teacher of the Year Judge

Bavaani Nanthabalan has been in teaching for over 40 years with 17 years as an executive head,  successfully leading inclusive primary schools and alternative provisions.  She is currently involved in school improvement and is a champion of the arts in the school curriculum.

Bavaani is a Trust Director at the Avanti Schools multi-academy trust.

Bavaani was the Gold winner for The Award for Headteacher of the Year, in a Primary School in 2020.


Becky Newman

The Award for Teaching Assistant of the Year Judge

Becky is a secondary school maths teacher in Essex. She has been working in Education for the past 16 years having started her career as a teaching assistant. In 2010 she won the Gold award for Teaching Assistant of the Year.
Becky has been a teaching award judge for 11 years “I feel very honoured to judge for the teaching awards, I have met some very inspirational people and seen some outstanding work, but most importantly I have seen the impact this has on the Children they work with”.

Ben Levinson OBE

The Award for Unsung Hero Judge

As Head Teacher, Ben Levinson has led Kensington Primary School to its current status of a flagship school in various areas from inclusion to wellbeing & winning 3 prestigious awards in 2020 including a Gold Teaching Award for Primary School of the year.

Under Ben’s guidance KPS has launched an innovative new curriculum at the school, specifically developed to provide the best outcomes for their pupils.  Ben is a member of several advisory groups and boards aimed at improving the well-being, safeguarding or social care of children.


Bob Twells

The Award for Digital Innovator of the Year Judge 

Bob has been in teaching for 30 years and recently retired after 20 years of headship. He says: I  thoroughly enjoyed my time and now stay in contact with schools through my new role of consultant. Before ‘ED’ I was in the RAF finishing my career on 50 Squadron-Vulcan bombers
I am married to Gill, have three children, two dogs and live in the lovely village of Claygate, Surrey. I love walking, travel, cycling and swimming and cannot resist visits to art galleries (I even ran one for a short period). I also enjoy cooking and even catered for two different weddings.

Catherine Power

The Award for Teacher of the Year in a Primary School – South Team Judge

Catherine won the Award for Headteacher of the Year in a Primary School in 2013. She has been the head of St Philip Evans in Llanederyn, Cardiff, for 15 years. Her passion for her work and care for the staff and pupils of the school ensure that the school community always works towards continuous improvement, enabling future generations to have the best start possible in education.

Claire Pearl

The Award for FE Team of the Year Judge

Claire is a Learning and Skills Manager for Service Industries at North Warwickshire & South Leicestershire College, looking after the curriculums in Hairdressing, Barbering, Beauty Therapies, Complementary Therapies, Make Up Artistry, Hospitality and Catering. She has been working in FE for 15 years, starting out as a lecturer in Sports Science and Sports Therapy which is her specialism. “I have been privileged to have twice won a Silver Pearson National Teaching Award for FE Team of the Year, once with my Hospitality and Catering Team in 2019 and more recently with my Beauty Therapy and Make Up Artistry Team in 2021. Being involved in the Pearson National Teaching Awards, recognising and celebrating the amazing work that happens in education is a truly awe-inspiring experience”



Janis Burdin MBE

The Award for Lifetime Achievement Judge

Starting her Primary teaching career in Hampshire, Janis Burdin returned to her home county of Lancashire where, in 1982, she opened Moss Side Primary School. Built to serve the Leyland area of Central Lancashire New Town, Janis soon established Moss Side as a highly respected, oversubscribed school where the emphasis was always to give her pupils a warm and safe environment where they could fulfil their full potential and lay down an excellent foundation for their future lives. Janis has been fundamental in the development of her own school, education in Leyland, Lancashire and even nationally. She retired after 36 years as Head, having taken her school through three Outstanding OFSTEDs and having being awarded the MBE for services to education. In 2018 she was delighted to receive the Gold Pearson Award for Lifetime Achievement. Janis now fills her time working on her smallholding and being a Pearson’s judge, whilst still continuing to be involved with her old school and pursuing her interest in education (and especially Maths.)

Jashu Vekaria MBE

The Award for Teacher of the Year in a Primary School -South Team Judge

Jashu Vekaria has been teaching for 15 years, she has supported colleagues across many schools in Harrow and built up an excellent reputation. She moved to Uxendon Manor Primary School in Brent in September 2010 and has worked at the school for six years – the first two as an Advanced Skills Teacher and from 2012 as the Deputy Headteacher. She is currently playing a leading role in delivering training as part of the schools designation by the Brent Schools Partnership as a ‘Specialist Centre for Mathematics’. She has made a tremendous impact in the schools and communities in which she has worked. Jashu is a wonderfully gifted teacher and has been an inspiration to both children and adults alike.

Joe Walker

The Award for Teacher of the Year in a Secondary School  – North Team Judge

Joe is Education Scotland’s National Specialist for Religious & Moral Education, Psychology, Philosophy & Sociology. This role involves providing support for schools and local authorities, and professional advice to the Scottish Government. Secondary teacher for 27 years and qualified in a variety of subject areas. Scottish Qualifications Authority Appointee of the Year 2010. Joe holds degrees in Theology, Environmental Science, Psychology and Sport Performance Coaching, and admits to being a ‘butterfly brain’! In his spare time Joe is Head Coach of a Swimming Club in West Lothian.

Jodie Lopez

The Award for Digital Innovator of the Year Judge

Jodie worked as a teacher, ICT coordinator, Assessment Lead and Enrichment coordinator in primary schools in East and South East London. She won a number of awards, particularly for her use of technology across the curriculum and to support school staff and parents. Since leaving full time teaching to start a family, Jodie has been working in education technology and primary assessment. Jodie is delighted to continue to be a judge for the Teaching Awards as it never fails to inspire her and remind her of the amazing professionals we are lucky to have, in the UK, teaching and caring for our children.


You can listen to Jodie sharing her knowledge on an EDSK podcast about research in Edtech, following the UNESCO report findings.


Justin McNamara

The Award for FE Team of the Year Judge

Currently Senior Curriculum Manager at New City College’s Shoreditch campus for Hospitality & Catering / Performing Arts. Justin has been in education for the past twelve years, primarily as a lecturer but has also had roles in quality improvement and curriculum design. As part of the Catering & Hospitality Department, “Rouge Catering”, Justin won the Award for FE Team or Lecturer of the Year 2017.

Kathy Harwood

The Award for Teaching Assistant of the Year Judge

I am a HLTA Team Leader and I provide education and support for sick youngsters aged 4-19 years who are resident in hospital with a wide variety of medical conditions, ranging from broken bones and unexplained pain through to cancers, brain injuries and brain tumours. I have worked in the Hospital School for over 20 years and I still absolutely love my job, I feel very privileged to work with sick children and make an impact on their lives when they are at their most vulnerable. My mantra is ‘everything is education’-every child and young person has the potential to learn, our job is to ensure that we tailor learning to meet their needs. Besides my husband and two boys, my most favourite indulgences are shoes, shopping, reading and smiling- life is always better when you smile!

Keith Berry

The Award for Lifetime Achievement Judge

Keith had extensive experience as a Senior Leader in a number of Special School settings nationally before being appointed as Headteacher at Park Community Academy in Blackpool in 1998.  Over a period of 23 years, he led the school through a major period of change that saw the age phase and designation of need change significantly and the pupil population double in size, before retiring in 2020.

The school moved from ‘satisfactory’ in 1997 to four successive Ofsted ‘Outstanding’ ratings.  Keith is a great advocate for distributed leadership and a ‘grow your own’ policy for staff. He was an NLE for seven years, Park Community Academy had National Support School status and was a lead school for School Direct ITT in partnership with the University of Cumbria. He also has previous experience as an IEB member and as an Accounting Officer within an Academy Trust, developing a good understanding of the academy system and it’s leadership, organisational and buisness structures.

Since retirement Keith has become a member of three governing bodies in the State, Independent and Free School sectors. High on his list of personal interests is sport and he is a ‘self-confessed football fanatic’ in his spare time!

Keith was awarded the Gold Pearson National Teaching Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2019.


Kevin Harcombe

The Award for Headteacher of the Year in a Primary School Judge

2007 Gold winner of The Award for Headteacher of the Year,  Kevin has been Head for nearly 30 years in three schools. Chair of Hampshire’s Primary Standing Committee and a former SIP, Kevin is a curriculum expert for the NPQ qualifications, contributed to the Cambridge Curriculum Review and has spoken on leadership at The TES Show, The Education Show and Westminster conferences, as well as on reading at The Sunday Times Festival of Education (Wellington College) and chaired a national conference on Pupil Premium in London. Publications include Brilliant Primary Teacher (Pearson) and other books and articles for The Guardian, Independent, TES and Teach Primary.

Liz Ormerod

The Award for Making a Difference – Primary School of the Year Judge

Liz is Headteacher at Delph Side Community Primary School in Skelmersdale, which was named Primary School of the Year – Making a Difference at the 2019 Pearson National Teaching Awards.

Delph Side’s success is built on a foundation of values led leadership and support for the local community, with recent projects including the creation of a new Special Educational Needs Unit and a community Art Studio opening later in 2022.

With colleagues from other local schools, Liz has created the Forward network of like-minded schools working together for mutual advantage.

Collaboration is everything.

Liz loves to travel, at any opportunity, with her husband and their two children.


Lorna Bradford

The Award for Teacher of the Year in a Secondary School – North Team Judge

The Award for Unsung Hero Judge

Lorna Bradford won the Award for Teacher of the Year in a Secondary School in 2015 whilst Head of Geography at a West Yorkshire secondary school. Since then, Lorna held positions of Assistant and Vice Principal leading on areas including Teaching and Learning, Personal Development, Behaviour and Attitudes in two large schools in Leeds. Lorna is now leading the development of quality assurance of a nationwide tutoring provision for Connex Education Partnership. Since winning the Gold Award, Lorna has been involved in judging in the category of Teacher of the Year in a Secondary School and more recently the Lockdown Hero for Learner and Community Support Category. She is deeply passionate about innovative methods of teaching and learning for the benefit of student progress, and believes that positive relationships are the key to success in the classroom. In her most recent role, Lorna is committed to providing the best quality education to all young people, but especially those from a disadvantaged background.


Maire Thompson

The Award for Headteacher of the Year in a Secondary School Judge

Maire Thompson is in her 6th year as Principal. Maire is Principal at Hazelwood Integrated College after 5 years at Malone College. In her previous role as Principal of Malone College, the school won the Derrytrasna Award for Outstanding Pastoral Care in 2015 and in 2017 Maire received the Pearson UK Head teacher of the Year Award. She has worked as an Associate Assessor for the Education & Training Inspectorate (ETI) since 2014, is the Chairperson of the Department of Education Newcomers Reference Group and was appointed to the Northern Ireland 14-19 Innovation Labs this year.

Mark Lambert

The Award for Excellence in Special Needs Education Judge

Mark has an ingrained passion and focus for developing highly effective and unique teaching and learning services for those with special educational needs across the North East of England. His career working with those who have learning difficulties and disabilities has spanned across 15 years in teaching, practitioner and leadership positions with the sole focus and drive to better prepare his students for adulthood. He is the Head of Accessibility and Inclusion at Northumbria University and is the judge for the Excellence in Special Educational Needs category.

Melanie Pilcher

The Award for Early Years Team of the Year Judge

Melanie has worked as Quality and Standards Manager for the Early Years Alliance for 15 years and has more than 30 years’ experience in early years.
In her role with the Alliance, Melanie supports the sector to achieve and maintain best practice with resources, information, publications, and by writing and delivering training. In recent years she has supported settings in SE Asia and other countries to promote the value of a play-based curriculum and continuously strives to ensure that every child has the best possible experience in their early years.

Michael Goves

The Award for Impact through Partnership Judge

First and foremost a father, and science teacher, I’ve spent the last 17 years in the maintained and independent sectors, holding a range of leadership posts in the field of teaching, learning and assessment. In 2014 I was fortunate enough to be nominated a Top Overseas Teacher by the Ministry of Education, Singapore, and judge in the DfE’s Character Awards. I have thoroughly enjoyed the honour of national judging for The Pearson Teaching Awards since 2011, uncovering – and learning from – some incredible leaders and practitioners. My passion for learning, pedagogy and developing teachers and leaders led me to lead curriculum and assessment for Ark’s Initial Teacher and NQT training programs nationally, and I currently serve as River Learning Trust’s Lead for Professional Learning and Development.

Nicola Whiston

The Award for Teacher of the Year in a Secondary School – North Team Judge

The Award for Unsung Hero Judge

I was lucky to be awarded a Silver award for Secondary teacher of the year in 2019 and joined the judging panel in 2021. I have taught in secondary schools across the North West leading maths departments to success and have a real passion for teaching.

Nicola is currently Assistant Principal and professional mentor at Ormiston Horizon Academy in Stoke-on-Trent.

She has a phenomenal record of success. As a maths teacher with such an excellent track record,  colleagues say she could take a job anywhere. Instead, she chooses to work in areas of high social disadvantage to smash barriers, defy stereotypes and watch her kids soar.



Nina Panayis

The Award for Outstanding New Teacher of the Year Judge

“My whole working life has been spent teaching in the East End of London. After being appointed Headteacher in one school, I was asked to take over a neighboring school that had been placed in ‘Special Measures’; becoming the first Headteacher in Newham to lead two schools. I was honoured to be presented with the UK award for ‘Teacher of the Year in a Primary School’ in 2003. Although officially retired, I still work in schools on a consultancy basis; including teaching on a regular basis.”

Pam Roberts

The Award for Teacher of the Year in a Primary School – South Team Judge

I have recently retired after 35 years of teaching. I was a Primary School Teacher and Deputy Head working in schools
in Buckinghamshire, Wiltshire and Monmouthshire. I thoroughly enjoyed my teaching career and I am now
enjoying the freedom to pursue other interests and challenges. I have been a Teaching Awards Judge since winning the UK award in 2004.

Raza Siddique

The Award for FE Lecturer of the Year Judge

Raza is an experienced lecturer in sport who provides an outstanding learner experience inside and outside the classroom. Raza is the Head of Sport and Performing Arts at New College Bradford. Raza uses technology and student-centred learning as an engagement tool in all lessons. Working outside of college, he provides the next generation of footballers and Rugby League players with opportunities at the elite level.

Rob Harrison

The Award for Teacher of the Year in a Primary School – North Team Judge

Rob has been Deputy head Teacher for the past 7 years at Perryfields Primary PRU.  Perryfields has had 4 consecutive Outstanding OFSTED Judgements, is an IQM Centre of excellence, SMSC Gold, and a DfE Behaviour Hubs Lead school. Rob went to Perryfields having served as Assistant Head / SENCO at Gorse Hill Community Primary School, a large Inner City Primary School. He is the Assistant Chair of the Nurture Group Steering Committee,  Nurture Group lead and KS2 Teacher in Worcestershire. Rob was the 2020 Silver winner in The Award for Teacher of the Year in a Primary School. In addition, he was also winner of the TOAST award for Primary School teacher, Runner up in Worcestershire Teacher of the Year 2019 and Runner up in the Nasen Primary Teacher of the Year awards. Rob now judges in The Teacher of the Year in a Primary School category.

Romayne Charles

The Award for Teacher of the Year in a Secondary School – South Team Judge

Romayne has been a teacher for 11 years and is subject leader of a Social Sciences and Modern Ethics faculty. She currently teaches three subjects and enjoys the variety and excitement working as a teacher brings. Romayne is passionate about developing whole-school teaching and learning as well as improving the wellbeing of staff as this has a direct impact on students. As a result of this, she has been a union representative and is currently a school governor. Romayne truly believes that teaching is the most rewarding career and feels privileged to get to work with young people.

Sam Coy

The Award for Making a Difference – Secondary School of the Year Judge

Sam Coy is the Executive Headteacher at Benjamin Adlard Primary School Gainsborough and Mount Street Academy Lincoln.  As Head of School and then as Headteacher of Benjamin Adlard, the school moved from Special Measures to Good in 12 Months and in 2018 was awarded the Pearson UK Primary School of the Year for ‘Making a Difference’. Since this Sam has judged the 2019 Primary school of the year award, spoke at educational conferences and is an LLE supporting schools in his area.  Sam’s team focuses on ‘Making a Difference’ in one of the most deprived wards in England trying to overcome excessive social mobility and high crime rates. His personal mantra is ‘It’s not magic, it’s about caring.’

Samantha Hunt MBE

The Award for Teacher of the Year in a Secondary School – South Team Judge

Sam Hunt is the Deputy Headteacher at Sandhurst School. After winning the Secondary School Teacher of the Year Award for the South of England in 2001, her work in anti-racism and genocide education led her to win the Anne Frank Award for Inspirational Educator of the Year. She has also been recognised as a “Pride of Bracknell” and as a Sue Ryder Woman of Achievement. Holocaust and genocide education is her passion. Sam is on the advisory boards of a number of genocide-prevention organisations and has also worked extensively in Rwanda, leading initiatives to provide homes, income-generating activities and education for genocide orphans.


Sara Broadbent MBE

The Award for Teacher of the Year in a Primary School – North Team Judge

The Award for Early Years Team of the Year Judge

In 2002 I won the National Teaching Award for Primary Teacher of the Year. I was invited to join the judging panel in 2003 and I proudly received an MBE for Services to Education in 2004. My teaching career has been focussed mainly in the Early Years and I have enjoyed the challenges of Senior Management and Local Authority Advisory work. I have a passion for Foundation Stage and Key Stage one practice; the excitement of working with enthusiastic little people has never faded. I have two young children who are both at Primary School and after taking some time to experience school life from a parent’s view Sara is back teaching Early Years.

Sarah Dignasse

The Award for Teacher of the Year in a Secondary School – South Team Judge

Sarah has 28 years experience in teaching with 13 of these as a secondary headteacher of a large comprehensive school.
She is currently working as a School Improvement Advisor within two local authority areas. She is a Professional Officer for a consortium of 8 Essex secondary schools working together to bring about school improvement, a 14-19 co-ordinator for a NW Essex consortium of schools focussing on Alternative Education and IAG, and also works as an External Advisor for Headteacher Performance Management and for Headteacher appointments.

Additionally Sarah is a member of an Interim Executive Board and is Director of a Multi-Academy Trust. She is Chair of Trustees of two Essex based charities: The David Randall Foundation and Families InFocus (Essex).


Sheila Ralph

The Award for Headteacher of the Year in a Primary School Judge

Sheila Ralph is a recently retired headteacher from one of the largest primary schools in South Yorkshire, with over 34 years teaching and leading experience in all key primary phases and a Local Leader in Education. I have been judging for the Teaching Awards since 2005.
One teacher made a difference in my life; I aimed throughout my teaching career to make a difference in many childrens’ lives. No child ever asked to be born; my entire philosophy was aimed at creating learning opportunities and environments for all to succeed, leading staff to work together ‘to make smiles grow’ enabling happy confident individuals to thrive.

Sheree Rymer

The Award for FE Lecturer of the Year Judge

The Award for FE Team of the Year Judge

I am a Curriculum Manager for Creative Arts at Education Partnership North East, Sunderland College. My specialism is drama/acting, where after graduating I started teaching Performing Arts in 2001; I have been working in FE as a teacher, then manager, for 19 years.   In 2018 I nominated my, newly qualified, drama lecturer for FE teacher of the year; he was successful at silver and then was awarded Gold at the Award Ceremony in London.  I then thought I would try again and in 2019 I nominated by music team for FE team of the year, and they were silver winners.  I am blessed to be working with such amazing practitioners within FE.

Within my role at Sunderland College I have been a lecturer, Teaching and Learning Coach, Advanced Practitioner and now Curriculum Manager.  Outside of my college role, I was fortunate enough to have worked for over 2 years as a Trustee for the Sunderland Empire Theatre Trust.  Education and teaching are my passion and I strive to shine a light on the best practice and open as many learning opportunities for young people as possible.

Steve Baker OBE

The Award for Excellence in Special Needs Education Judge

I am the Principal of a hard federation comprising two outstanding SEMH schools in Merseyside. We use non-confrontational approaches to behaviour modification and the secondary school is a sanction free zone; staff focus on developing empathy and pro-social skills and are researching the impact of our work with Goldsmiths ( A former Ofsted inspector, I develop school leaders across England for Ambition School Leadership and am on the advisory board of the think tank Learnus ( I also work with prisons nationwide on developing a culture of rehabilitation.
Before teaching I worked as a Forensic Anthropologist collecting evidence of the Bosnian genocide and am now on the North West board of the charity Remembering Srebrenica, raising awareness of the consequences of hate (