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Pearson Teaching Awards – Meet This Year’s Six Silver Winners in the Primary School Teacher of the Year Category

And the winner is…find out when this year’s ceremony is shown on BBC2 on 29 October

  • Pearson Teaching Awards – Meet This Year’s Six Silver Winners in the Primary School Teacher of the Year Category

We’re delighted to introduce you to six silver winners in this year’s Pearson Teaching Awards. All were featured in the Primary School Teacher of the Year category. Here, they share their greatest challenges, achievements and tips for new teachers.

Find out who is awarded the top prize when this year’s ceremony is shown on BBC2 on 29 October.


Adam Parkhouse

UKS2 and senior teacher, Cantley Primary, Cantley, Norfolk



Ceri Hamer

Deputy head, Trumacar Community Primary, Heysham, Lancashire



Johnny Lee

Teacher, Red Oak Primary, Lowestoft, Suffolk



Josie Hodges

Assistant head, Brooklands Primary, Long Eaton, Nottinghamshire



Matthew Hudson

Deputy head, Oaklands Primary, Welwyn, Hertfordshire



Michelle Garton

Y6 teacher and English and UKS2 lead, Wyndham Primary Academy, Derby, Derbyshire


What has been your greatest challenge?

Adam: To forever learn, adapt and tweak my practice to ensure there is an environment where children are curious, celebrated as individuals and genuinely want to come through the door in the morning. This not only comes down to pedagogy, but also building lasting relationships with the children I work with. This has been particularly vital in a small school environment – I love hearing that children can’t wait to be in my class!

Ceri: I am currently deputy and acting head of this large primary school, but also teach in Y6. This in itself is a great challenge – managing all the things on my to do list – but I only have to walk down the corridor of our lovely school to see lots of smiling faces to remind myself the hard work is worth it. Other challenges in the school have included raising staff and pupil morale after a period of turmoil in the past. Being positive all the time can be exhausting, but this is easily outweighed by how rewarding this job is.

Johnny: Even though Red Oak is one of the largest schools in Lowestoft, three years ago it didn’t have a single trophy in its cabinet. That really bothered me. I wanted to turn this losing culture around and turn our pupils into winners on the sports field. I invested my own time to provide extensive after-school and lunchtime sports clubs to get as many children as active as possible. The clubs were aimed at improving fitness levels as well as giving our children a competitive edge. I wanted them to be hungry to succeed in competition. I split training sessions into 50% sports psychology and 50% physical training. This has resulted in 82% of our students participating in after-school sports. I also set up a girls’ football academy to get more girls active. Over the last two years our girls’ teams have won every local football championship, never losing a game. Our school has been awarded a gold School Games Mark and we now have 26 trophies in our cabinet!

Josie: Working full-time as an assistant head in a large primary school while caring for elderly parents and managing multiple sclerosis, which I was diagnosed with 16 years ago. The challenge is considerable on a daily basis, yet my supportive team – and a lot of determination and hard work – has made it possible to maintain the high standards I expect of myself, with the ultimate goal always being to help children learn effectively.

Matthew: Moving to a school that was in a negative place with satisfactory outcomes and several parents withdrawing their children. I was proud to be part of the process of driving improvement, changing the mindsets of pupils, staff and parents, raising attainment and improving the environment. It was a lot of hours of hard work but provided great fulfilment.

Michelle: Knowing that I have used my role to not only improve the education of my own pupils, but those beyond my class, through the sharing and implementing of pedagogical approaches to effectively increase attainment across the school and other schools within my trust.


What has been your greatest achievement?

Adam: I’ve made a real effort to embrace my own interests and involve them in my practice, more so than in the earlier part of my career. For years I’ve wanted to bring my love of fantasy fiction and gaming into the classroom. I’ve now developed my own world, characters and game to inspire the children to write. Since its creation some brilliant work has been produced and other classes have taken the same approach, which is amazing and incredibly rewarding.

Ceri: Seeing a child struggling emotional, socially and academically and being able to lift them to a more confident place is the greatest achievement any teacher could wish for – to help, support, develop and guide them to reach their full potential, whatever form that takes. In the primary sector you can only endeavour to prepare children for what comes next and wait to hear about the outcomes. The number of ex-pupils achieving awards and keeping in touch with us year after year definitely makes all of us at the school feel as we have achieved good things.

Johnny: The moment that I found out that I’d won a Pearson Teaching Award was truly a life-defining moment that I’ll never forget.

Josie: My greatest achievement is simple and changes frequently – the learning and progress of the children at my school. I feel honoured and humbled to have been nominated for a Pearson Teaching award by colleagues (past and present), parents, governors and current and past pupils. Listening, reading and discussing the nomination has made me proud to have adhered to my values at all times and that this has been deemed to make a difference.

Matthew: Aside from becoming a parent, my biggest achievements have been seeing the impact of my input and the increased support of parents. We’ve now got a new forest school and won our local ‘school of the year’ competition two years running. To know that I played a part in this success is career affirming. 
Michelle: Understanding that in teaching, perfection does not exist. Feeling like the lesson you have just taught could have been better or you need to improve your pedagogy in a certain area is not a weakness.


What advice do you have for new teachers?

Adam: Join Twitter. Over the last 18 months, it’s had a huge impact on my teaching. There are a lot of like-minded, enthusiastic people on there that provide a range of CPD that just isn’t available in most schools. As a result of signing up, we’ve hosted a guest Minion from America, judged the Blue Peter Book Awards and had regular interactions with authors such as Cressida Cowell. I’ve also been able to further my own practice by magpieing from all over the place!

Ceri: Look after yourself. You are about to enter into one of the hardest but most rewarding jobs in the world.

Johnny: When you feel like you’re being overloaded with data and constant educational changes, don’t let it defeat you and drive you out of the profession. Accept change, step back, take a breath and remember why you decided to become a teacher in the first place. Remind yourself that you choose this path to help others and to make the world a better place. Always make sure that nothing ever replaces that personal motivation.

Josie: Have courage in your convictions, read widely, try new ideas and take risks. Never stop learning and be honest with self-reflection – there is always plenty to learn no matter what stage you are at in your career.

Matthew: Choose the correct school for you – one that shares your ethos for pupils’ learning. Some days will be hard and won’t go to plan, but don’t be afraid to make mistakes.

Michelle: The feeling of always striving to improve is what makes a great teacher. The sooner we stop being overly critical of ourselves, the sooner we can become risk taking, innovative and effective practitioners.


Find out more…

Congratulations also go to fellow nominees Lynsey Wangiel, Faye Facer and Hayley Townsend. The Teaching Awards were established in 1998 by Lord David Puttnam with a mission to recognise and celebrate exceptional professionals in education. The awards process starts with ‘thank a teacher’ cards, free for students and parents alike to nominate, and then goes on to seek endorsed nominations from schools, culminating in an annual awards ceremony that is televised every year by the BBC.

To find out more and enter the 2018 Pearson Teaching Awards, visit teachingawards.com.

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