Pearson National Teaching Awards

Celebrating transformational teaching

Heather Cooper,

Silver Winner, The Award for Teacher of the Year in a Primary School, 2018

“All this adds up to a feel good factor for our school and all who are part of it”

Heather Cooper
The Award for Teacher of the Year in a Primary School
Spire Junior School

Well it’s been a year since receiving the silver award and what a year it’s been. The process of being nominated and receiving a ‘Thank a teacher card’ was an awesome feeling. To know someone thought so highly of me and take the time out of their day to put me forward for the award was amazing. When my head teacher came into class to announce that I’d ‘got through’ to the next round I was completely overwhelmed.

The process of being assessed by the judges was one of quiet, calm observation. They came into my class to see our children busy at their work. There was no pressure they just wanted to see how I operate. Our activity for the afternoon was to recreate famous landmarks from around the world. We used sweets and biscuits for this and the children had a whale of a time.

Speaking to the judges was a pleasure. I was able to tell them about my life goals and achievements throughout my career. They put me totally at ease which meant I was able to share with them some of my most treasured moments of my teaching career.

One of the greatest moments of winning and receiving my award came as a complete surprise to me. I remember the day well. Our school was having an art parade at the end of an art week. Many people came along to support us as we marched proudly around the streets near our school dressed in the outfits the children had fashioned that week. The local Mayor and Mayoress of our town came along too, as did the local newspaper photographer from the Derbyshire Times. I believed we were being honoured with their presence but thought nothing more of it.

On arrival back at school we all gathered on the field and the head made several announcements. Then to my total surprise my family appeared and the head told me that I had gained the silver Pearson National Teaching award. I was totally shocked and surprised. The Mayor presented me with the award in front of many parents, the whole school and my family. I swelled with pride – words failed me.

Moving on from the award filled me with the self-belief. When our school took on a new way of thinking to help move our children on I spent much time creating inventive learning environments to inspire the young minds we teach.

This past year has seen my classroom turned into a historical wonderland where we taught about the Ancient Egyptians. A visit from a local reporter kick started our project which enabled the children to understand how a magazine is produced. The end product was my year 3 children launched a professionally printed magazine all about life in ancient Egypt.

In the spring term we had another awe inspiring project – we took the children on a geography trip around the world. Again my classroom was transformed. A large train was installed for the children to sit in as they did their work and a hot air balloon hung from the ceiling. Every corner of the room became a different country. The end project resulted in a large fantasy island being created and displayed in our local town centre. This attracted much attention including a tweet from the Geography Society. They are going to produce and article in their magazine early next year.

As a result of winning the silver award I have been inspired and developed a confidence to take my teaching to another level. Contacting the local paper is something I would never have done prior to receiving the award. The children are very proud of their school and love to see themselves in the paper, and our school has been rewarded many times with positive publications in our local newspaper. All this adds up to a feel good factor for our school and all who are part of it.