A spotlight on Emma Darcy and her Pearson National Teaching Award experience
Emma Darcy, Director of Technology for Learning at Denbigh High School in Luton and the Chiltern Learning Trust, shares her Pearson National Teaching Award experience.
“I can honestly say it was the absolute highlight of my career - a true, fairytale moment after two challenging years.”
Tell us about...
I was nominated for Digital Innovator of the Year in 2021, by my wonderful colleague Erin Corder, an Assistant Headteacher at Denbigh, for:
My role developing a Technology for Learning Strategy at Denbigh that’s also supported work across the Chiltern Learning Trust. In 2019, the school was chosen by UNESCO as a case study on “Developing and delivering a successful technology for learning strategy in the UK.”
Evolving the strategy during the pandemic, working with Challney High School for Girls as part of the DfE’s national EdTech Demonstrator Programme, supporting schools across the UK and internationally with developing their own digital learning strategies.
Working with an amazing team of colleagues and supporting the introduction of a 1:1 device scheme for students, as well as a wide range of multimedia technologies which are used to facilitate innovative teaching, learning and assessment practices, including online Classrooms, audio marking and feedback, virtual tours, green screen productions and app creation.
The big reveal that you'd been nominated
Being nominated for the award marked the start of an incredible year, not just for myself but for the wider school and Trust community. Following the discovery that I had been nominated (which was revealed to me via an amazing presentation at a Denbigh Senior Leadership Team Meeting), there was then the judging process which, without giving too much away, involved the support of a number of colleagues and moved me to tears.
Finding out you’d won a Silver award in June
Waiting to see if you've won a coveted silver award is nerve-wracking, but, when it was revealed on National Thank a Teacher Day that I had done so, it made the anticipation worthwhile. The team at Denbigh and staff from across the Trust could not have gone to more trouble, arranging a surprise assembly with special guests, confetti cannons and - best of all! - the Admin Team all wearing t-shirts with my picture on. For a short while, “Denbigh Darcy Day” became an actual thing!
Attending the Silver Award Afternoon Tea in September
As a winner, it doesn’t stop there. Next to come was the afternoon tea at the National Gallery for all the Silver Award winners. This was a very special event as, not only was it a chance to meet the other award winners and have an official photograph taken, but, due to the pandemic, it was also the first time I'd been to London in over two years. The sense of pride in being able to attend such an event and what it represented in a wider sense to the school and Trust cannot be overstated.
The Pearson National Teaching Award Ceremony in November
In the run-up to ceremony, the support and encouragement I received from colleagues both at Denbigh and across the Trust was absolutely overwhelming. Everyone was just so excited that our work was being recognised in this way and that we had made it to the final!
On the day itself, my nerves were at a fever pitch - as a Trust, we use Twitter a lot, so I was inundated with supportive messages and staff documenting the day as it unfolded. One of the loveliest aspects of the Awards Ceremony is that your colleagues have a chance to come with you, so surrounding me on the table that evening were people who had been with me every step of the way since I started at Denbigh.
When I heard my name announced as the Gold Winner in the Digital Innovator of the Year category, I could hardly believe it. And when I went up to collect the award, I can honestly say it was the absolute highlight of my career - a true, fairytale moment after two challenging years.
This award doesn’t just belong to me (although I am the very lucky one who gets to have it at home on my mantelpiece!) I got to go on this incredible journey as a result of all the fantastic people I work with, both at Denbigh and across the Chiltern Learning Trust - it belongs to all of them as much as it does to me.
What would you say to anyone thinking about nominating a colleague for a Pearson National Teaching Award?
If you're thinking of nominating someone for a Pearson National Teaching Award, please do it! You have no idea what it could lead to and how wonderful it can be for your school and wider community. Who knows, the person you nominate could turn out to be as lucky as I've been.
There is still time to enter the 2022 Pearson National Teaching Awards. You have until midnight on 04 March. Please contact The Teaching Awards if you would like to request a deadline extension.