People don’t become teachers for the money. They do it because they want to make a difference in the lives of children, helping them to enhance their skills, discover new interests, grow in confidence, and create a bright future based on a passion that develops at a very young age. However, three fantastic UK educators are in with a chance of winning a prestigious title, which comes with an impressive cash reward.
The Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize goes to a teacher who has made an outstanding contribution to the profession. As if taking home the title of world’s best teacher isn’t enough, the Varkey Foundation, which focuses on improving the standards of education for underprivileged children, presents the winner with a staggering $1 million prize, which equates to £800,000.
The three UK teachers whose achievements have placed them on the shortlist are:
Emma Russo, a physics teacher at the all-girls South Hampstead High School in London. Her use of virtual reality headsets and video calls between scientists and pupils makes the subject fun for all, whilst her organising of the citywide event Girls in Physics is encouraging more females to enter the profession.
As a result, one of her classes achieved 100% A-A* grades, which is truly incredible.
Jimmy Rotheram from Bradford teaches music at Feversham Primary Academy, where every single student receives a minimum of three music lessons each week. Jimmy uses the Kodaly approach, which revolves around nurturing students as opposed to criticising them, resulting in a friendly, welcoming and creative learning environment.
Through these techniques, a large volume of pupils from underprivileged and minority backgrounds are showing a great interest in improving their musical skills. Meanwhile, the school itself has risen from special measures to the top 10% in England for progressing children’s learning in core subjects.
Last but certainly by no means least, Andrew Moffat, the assistant head and a personal social health education teacher at Parkfield Community School in Birmingham, created the No Outsiders programme. This teaches children about the differences and similarities between modern cultures and the importance of inclusiveness. With 99% of the students in his school being Muslim, his after-school club presents opportunities for them to meet people of different races, religions and cultures around the city.
He has also written for The Independent about the challenges faced as an openly gay man teaching LGBT+ equality in a Muslim school, and his efforts have already resulted in him receiving an MBE from the Queen in 2017 for services to education.
Emma, Jimmy and Andrew are part of the top fifty shortlist, which will be reduced to ten finalists by a committee in February. The finalists will then be invited to Dubai for an award ceremony at the Global Education and Skills Forum on the 24th of March, with the winner announced in front of a large audience. Needless to say, this will be an incredible celebration for everyone involved, especially for the recipient of the coveted title and prize.
For those of you who didn’t make the list, we believe that you’re all worth more than a million dollars regardless. Your selfless commitment to supporting students’ needs and instilling a love of life-long learning is truly priceless, so keep up the good work and one day you could very well be crowned the world’s best teacher.