Only Connect — Teach First award winners reveal their secrets…

9 July 2011
Local Schools Network

I attended the Teach First Awards this Thursday and interviewed some of the award winners afterwards. The ceremony was your average award winning affair: lots of praise for sponsors and quite a bit of back-slapping. I like the Teach First programme because it has at its heart the idea of promoting good teaching — which is surely what it’s all about — but it’s worth remembering that even if Teach First becomes the largest graduate employer in the country by employing over a 1,000 graduates, it will still amount to less 1% of the teaching workforce. Teach First’s impact, while important, is always going to be small. Its value is perhaps more symbolic than anything else. This said, I do believe we have a lot to learn from its best teachers. I shot some video footage on my Flip camera and put together this short film about the key elements of good teaching, based on what the award winners told me. The winners interviewed on the film are:

Primary Excellence Award – winner: Kate Barron, from Manorfield Primary School, Tower Hamlets, London

Janette Butler from P&G who presented the award said: “Kate spent a great deal of time in the beginning of the year setting relevant and ambitious visions and goals for her students. She enthused them about writing – even starting a ‘Young journalists’ Club where they created their own newsletter for the school.  This participant worked tirelessly to help her students progress. In just one example, she focussed on a boy who over the years had fallen far behind. With her help, this student began to make progress – for the first time in four years.  As his confidence grows, this young man’s results are continuing to improve against all expectations…including his own.”

STEM Excellence Award – winner: Joshua Eisenthal, Physics teacher, Capital City Academy, Brent, London

Peter Silcock from Credit Suisse who presented the award said: “Joshua consistently identifies underachievers and analyses reasons why they aren’t progressing, using others to help him apply new interventions to raise his pupil’s attainment. He has put a lot of time into his year 13 physics class this year, most of whom have applied to study physics at university. One of his pupils under direct coaching and mentoring applied to Oxford and has been given a conditional offer. If he achieves the required ‘A’ level results he will be the first pupil at the school to gain a place at Oxbridge.”

The Excellence Award – winner: Fiona Docherty, Business Studies teacher, Walworth Academy Southwark

Glenn Earle from Goldman Sachs who presented the award said: “The nominations for Fiona all describe dedication, commitment, drive, modesty and sheer hard work in all areas of school life, which set her apart.  As a business teacher she treats all her students as young business people, shaking their hands as they enter the classroom.  She sets exceptionally high standards and is relentless at ensuring her pupils progress. As a result they have achieved well above their target grades.  In fact five of her students achieved A stars in their GCSE mocks – considerably higher than predicted. Her colleagues say she has raised the aspirations of her pupils by organising trips to multi-national companies as well as organising after school activities….an inspiration not only to her students but to other teachers at the school as well.

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