UK winners announced on BBC2 at UK ceremony of the Pearson Teaching Awards 2011

11 “Oscars for Teachers” were presented at a star-studded ceremony yesterday celebrating excellence in education.

The UK ceremony of the Pearson Teaching Awards 2011 was hosted yesterday by Lenny Henry celebrity presenters included Hollywood star Minnie Driver, legendary fashion designer Dame Vivienne Westwood, theatre director Sir Trevor Nunn, comedian Al Murray and ‘Downton Abbey’ actress Elizabeth McGovern.

The eleven UK winners each received a gold Plato - the ultimate symbol of excellence in education. They have been chosen from 22,000 nominations - a record since they were founded in 1998 by Lord Puttnam CBE. Six of the winners were nominated by pupils or parents.

All UK and regional winners from 2011and 2010 were invited to a reception hosted by Prime Minister David Cameron on Wednesday 2 November.

Rod Bristow, president of Pearson UK said: “Pearson is delighted to be supporting the Teaching Awards. At Pearson we believe in learning and its power to change lives. We know that the people who really make learning flourish are teachers, and it is vital to recognise some of the exceptional work going on in classrooms around the UK today.” 


1. Miss Rachael Keeble is UK winner of the Award for Outstanding New Teacher of the Year and was nominated in her very first year of teaching at Severn Banks Primary School, Naas Lane, Lydney, Forest of Dean, GLOUCESTERSHIRE GL15 5AU

Miss Rachael Keeble, aged 23, is a career switcher whose legal ambitions changed while volunteering in a primary school. She has a law degree from Durham; both her parents are teachers and Rachael grew up in Wales. Headteacher Pam Howell says that in 24 years shes never witnessed such passion and determination to succeed. Lydney has inner city problems in a rural setting but excuses disappear in this teacher’s highly imaginative Year 4 classroom. ‘Dr Who’s Tardis had crash landed when judges visited and the children’s task was to re-boot its memory with all they know; philosophy is their favourite subject and characters like Punctuation Parrot and Captain Curiosity enliven lessons. Playfulness extends to ‘star of the week’ who gets three wishes for a day, such as to be called ‘Your Majesty’. Some parents have crossed the school threshold for the first time to attend her half-termly tea parties. Children told Teaching Awards judges: ‘We used to be the naughtiest class in the school – we’re not now.’ 

2. Mrs Patricia Davies is UK winner of  the Award for Headteacher of the Year and for four years has led Chingford Hall Primary School, Burnside Avenue, Waltham Forest LONDON E4 8YJ. She is also consultant head at Whittingham primary in Walthamstow

Mrs Patricia Davies is making an ‘astonishing difference’ to children’s lives in London E4 and considers the above average deprivation no excuse.  She arrived four years ago as a consultant head and never left - she’s now consultant head at Whittingham Primary School in Walthamstow too. She has transformed Chingford Hall with pristine facilities and a new children’s centre. It’s been one of England’s most improved primary schools three times (2008-10) and is now in the top 1 per cent of most improved primaries. All Year 6 have achieved level 4 or above for past two years; this year 75 % got Level 5 in English and maths. She was nominated by a pupil who is proud of her school and loves her dynamic headteacher. Mrs Davies has infectious enthusiasm with steely determination. Staff (including one with 35 years service) believe she’s got a recipe for success that’s transferable to other struggling schools. ‘We want people to know there’s something special going on here,’ they told UK judges.  

3. Mrs Christine Emmett is UK winner of the Award for Teacher of the Year and has years of experience at St Elizabeth's Primary School, William Drive, Eddlewood, Hamilton, South Lanarkshire, SCOTLAND ML3 7RQ

Mrs Christine Emmett may have been teaching for more than 25 years but her enthusiasm, energy and appetite to inspire young children never wanes. UK judges found her big personality and profound influence runs ‘like a golden thread’ through everything that happens at this RC primary school in Hamilton, South Lanarkshire. She captivates children’s interest ‘like a pied piper’ and is adept at involving the community, for example a car salesman and cake shop owner help out with practical maths. Even snow on the playground is a teaching resource! She speaks Scots dialect and Spanish fluently in her P3/4 class and has long-held passions for green issues and for fair trade. A pupil from P5/6 who she taught last year nominated her for being ‘the best teacher ever’.  At her instigation the school has more than 20 partnerships with local businesses from St Andrew’s hospice to Lanarkshire TV. Hamilton is a small town 12 miles south of Glasgow where everyone is delighted to know her. 

4.  Mr Simon Roberts is UK winner of the Award for Special Needs Teacher of the Year and has been a music teacher at Selworthy School, Selworthy Road, Taunton, SOMERSET TA2 8HD for four years  

Simon Roberts is a highly qualified young music teacher and therapist with a rare combination of talents at this special school for 80 students aged 4-19, some with severe autism. After four years, his ‘uplifting presence’ and unique gifts have influenced every aspect of school life including the creative use of ICT and ‘sell-out’ school performances. UK judges for this award were ‘bowled over’ by a joyous music lesson with lights, music and sound effects; everyone contributed and a video play-back of student performance was highly motivating for them. He has discovered profound ways of measuring progress especially using digital media and can reach the most disabled students. Parents thank him for ‘giving back’ their child; one girl is guaranteed to smile for him, says her mother. Students say ‘he’s a cool man’ and ‘very funny’; judges say he’s an inspiring ambassador for his school and for what can be achieved in special needs.  

5. Richard Rodd is UK Winner of the Award for History Teacher of the Year and gives memorable lessons at Tendring Technology College, Rochford Way, Frinton on Sea, ESSEX CO13 0AZ

Richard Rodd is an inspirational and energetic history teacher whose capacity to bring the past to life is ‘awesome’. For example, he casts students as MI5 agents investigating the murder of Thomas Becket or as police working on the Jack the Ripper case. His ‘piece de resistance’ will be WW1 trenches and a WW2 Anderson shelter being constructed in a new Victory Garden at Tendring Technology College; Richard’s grandfather is a farmer who advises and lends his tractor. This comprehensive is in the top 5 per cent for added value. Students aspire and work hard because they’re ‘completely immersed’ in history and are kept on tenterhooks by this exciting teacher. Nominated by a student, Mr Rodd’s passion for historical sites and visits is legendary. His GCSE classes achieved 96% grades A*-C this summer and at least one ex student is becoming a history teacher.   

6. Mrs Mandy Theobald is UK winner of the Award for Teaching Assistant of the Year and for 20 years has been a much-loved and respected presence at Spring Meadow Primary School, Pound Farm Drive, Dovercourt, HARWICH, Essex  CO12 4LB

Mandy Theobald first came to this Essex primary 20 years ago as a parent, then began to work as a teaching assistant. She’s now at the heart of the school as a learning mentor with unbending belief in children and in what education can do for them. The motto in her cosy office emphasises: ‘This is the first day of the rest of your life’. She’s a great listener and hugely reassuring for stressed, nervous and sometimes angry children. Her calm presence at the school gate nips problems in the bud on a daily basis. She’s the bridge between home and school in this needy area and parents, one of whom nominated her for this award, like her non-judgmental style. The Theobald Cup, donated 3 years ago and given annually by her family, is for the child who’s done most to conquer a challenge.    

7. Mrs Nicki Bovey is UK Winner of the Award for Science Teacher of the Year and head of chemistry at Community School, Wearde Road, Saltash,  CORNWALL  PL12 4AY

Known as a ‘whiz bang’ chemistry teacher at this Cornish comprehensive, Mrs Nicki Bovey she gives unforgettable lessons, such as the exploding pumpkin at Halloween. As head of department she has transformed GCSE results in four years from the worst in the county to the best. This summer 86 per cent achieved A*-C grades in chemistry and A level student numbers have doubled - 40% of them are choosing chemistry at university. Her popular, patient and inspiring presence is helping to transform the whole faculty of science. Two years ago she brought puppy dog Max to school to sit calmly under her desk. Students train, feed and walk him and the ‘Max factor’ has helped turn around the problems of some low achievers and poor attenders. She’s led three World Challenge expeditions to S Africa, Thailand and Brazil, organises teams for the annual Ten Tors hike and supervises the Duke of Edinburgh Awards. This UK winner was nominated by students on the school council and a whole school vote: ‘she’s a brilliant teacher and a brilliant person’, they said.

8. Mr Jeff Stratton is the UK winner of  the Ted Wragg Award for Lifetime Achievement and is  currently director of imagination at Lipson Community College, Bernice Terrace, PLYMOUTH, Devon, PL4 7PG

Aged 71, Mr Jeff Stratton is a remarkable educator of 50 years standing but is first and foremost an art teacher. He joined Lipson Community College 16 years ago after a varied career as head teacher of a secondary modern school, then a lecturer, an l.e.a. adviser and a community artist. Head teacher Steve Baker says he’s a valuable mentor and made him ‘Master of Imagination’ because of his capacity to inspire everyone. Jeff lives on Bodmin Moor, owns two ponies, has a pilot’s licence and plays guitar but his chief motivation is education; he learned canoeing to give disadvantaged kids a taste of adventure. Typically, his 70th birthday party was a fund raiser for schools in Sierra Leone and he’s renown for anti-racism work in Plymouth with his wife. He co-founded Plymouth’s Barbican Theatre and has widespread influence in the performing arts. The teaching assistant who nominated him says he’s a ‘great humanitarian and a true gentleman’. Former students came from afar to tell Teaching Awards judges he’d turned their lives around; ‘one in a million’ is what they all say.  

9. The PE Department at Dyffren Taf Secondary School, WHITLAND, Dyfed, Carmarthenshire, Wales SA34 0BD is UK winner of the Award for Outstanding Team of the Year

This remarkable seven-strong squad of sportsmen (4) and women (3) at Dyffryn Taf was nominated by ex-student Dan Newton who plays for the Scarlets rugby team. ‘As a professional rugby player I have benefited from the fruits of their labour. I recognise the major part they have played in my success and want to give them thanks and recognition for their hard work and dedication. Remarkably, so too have scrum half Mike Phillips and centre Jonathan Davies - international players for Wales in the 2011 Rugby World Cup who are also ‘old boys’ of the school. The PE department’s ethos is at the heart of this rural Welsh comprehensive which ‘punches above its weight’ in every aspect of physical activity. The staff who are skilled players and coaches themselves, are committed to ‘sport for all’ but also to training elite young players in sports ranging from rugby and cricket to kayaking, rowing, bowls, basketball and golf. Nor do they produce arrogant ‘sports jocks’, but players who are ‘comfortable in themselves’, according to the Welsh RFU. Headteacher Dr Robert Newsome OBE believes in encouraging healthy lifestyles and that sport is a catalyst for academic success. This ‘team of the year’ also encourages young people to become ambassadors for the 2012 Olympics, sports scientists, coaches and reporters. Everyone’s involved.  The seven team members are:

  • Miss Lucy Anthony
  • Mr Dylan Blain
  • Mr Mark Corby
  • Mr Bradley Davies
  • Graham Evans, Head of Boys PE
  • Mrs Joanne Phillips, Head of Girls PE
  • Miss Judith Roberts

10. Wren Spinney Community Special School at Westover Road, Kettering, NORTHAMPTONSHIRE  NN15 7LB,  is UK Winner of the Henry Winkler Teaching Award for Special Needs which includes a £10,000 prize.

A successful town centre sweet shop has been created by Wren Spinney Community Special School to give students valid work experience, contact with the public and vocational qualifications. Now there are plans to create an associated workshop for all students including the most disabled. The idea, driven by inspiring headteacher Debbie Withers, wins the £10,000 prize. Henry Winkler OBE, the Hollywood actor (‘The Fonz’) and dyslexic author who’s given his name to this Teaching Award, thinks it’s a brilliant idea and says he wouldn’t mind working there himself – ‘send me an application!’ says Henry. The shop in Kettering town centre sells old-fashioned sweets, party bags and craft items. Working with a consortium of 8 other special schools, Wren Spinney plans to involve as many young people as possible. Parents say their children blossom and grow in confidence in this ‘normal’ environment. 

11. The Lewis School Pengam, Gilfach, Bargoed, Caerphilly,  WALES, CF81 8LJ is UK winner of the Pearson Teaching Awards Film My School competition, scooping a prize of film equipment worth ú5000.

The ‘Film My School’ competition is for young people to convey why there school is a great place to be. The winning film, directed by GCSE media student Liam Gough, from this large comprehensive in South Wales, lasts around two minutes and has a strong message: ‘learning should be fun - this is how it’s done’. We see learning through experiments in a lab, learning by keeping mind and body alert in the gym and learning by doing, which shows an outdoor history class all dressed up as Crusaders. Meanwhile there’s an unforgettable soundtrack by sixth form music student Nathan Battersby who sings and plays acoustic guitar in front of the whole school. He’s written a love song with an educational twist, ending on ‘It’s going to be fun finding out’.

See the film at:

Notes to editors

The Pearson Teaching Awards UK ceremony was held at the Palace Theatre in London’s West End on Sunday 30 October and broadcast as live on BBC2 from around 6pm. UK winners will receive a gold Plato - a symbol of excellence in education.  

The 11 categories for 2011 are as follows:

  • The Award for Headteacher of the Year
  • The Award for Outstanding New Teacher of the Year
  • The Award for Teacher of the Year
  • The Award for History Teacher of the Year
  • The Award for Science Teacher of the Year
  • The Award for Special Needs Teacher of the Year
  • The Award for Teaching Assistant of the Year
  • The Ted Wragg Award for Lifetime Achievement
  • The Teaching Award for Outstanding School Team of the Year
  • The Henry Winkler Teaching Award for Special Needs
  • Film My School - a competition

The Pearson Teaching Awards is open to every school in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Schools in Scotland  have their own awards system but some Scottish finalists are entered for the Pearson Teaching Awards at UK level. 

The Awards were established by Lord Puttnam CBE in 1998 and are managed by the Teaching Awards Trust, an independent charity. The Trusts mission is to celebrate excellence in education.

The Pearson Teaching Awards is sponsored by Pearson Education UK and by the Department for Education. 

Anyone can thank a teacher and enter them for an award. Go to 

Please address any questions to

Sarah Bayliss
Education Press and PR
Tel: 0203 117 1909
Mobile: 07968 315 701 


Sabrina Hamilton
Tel: 020 3 117 1906
Mobile: 07505 061343 
Photos of the UK winners receiving their gold Platos at