Ten state school teachers from across Britain have been honoured as 'inspirational teachers' by Oxford University as part of an awards scheme designed to recognise excellent teachers from state schools and colleges.
On Friday 2 May the teachers were honoured by Oxford University's Vice-Chancellor at an event at St Hugh's College. They were recognised for their efforts supporting pupils who were successful in getting places at Oxford. The teachers were all nominated by current first-year Oxford students.
Mike Nicholson, Director of Undergraduate Admissions at Oxford, said: 'We all remember a teacher who passed on their passion for a subject to us. Mine was Chris Kilkenny, a history teacher at Heathfield Senior High School, which is now the Joseph Swan Academy, in Gateshead, who made history come alive through his inspirational classroom teaching and field trips around the North East.
'The Inspirational Teachers Awards are a way of recognising the importance of school or college teachers in encouraging bright students to realise their potential and make a successful application to Oxford, especially those who might not have initially believed they were Oxford material.
'Most of the students who submitted nominations this year were the only ones at their school with the academic ability to apply to Oxford and might not have even considered applying. We think it's important to recognise those teachers whose dedication really made a difference in pushing students to have confidence in their academic abilities and aim for the top, no matter what.'
He added: 'This year's winning teachers also represented the highest standard of commitment to all their students, inspiring successful Oxford applicants but also raising the aspirations or instilling an enthusiasm for their subject in others. They have inspired students with their passion, creativity and dedication to be the best they possibly can be and deserve recognition for that above all.'
Oxford's Vice-Chancellor, Professor Andrew Hamilton, presented the awards. He said: 'A good teacher can be absolutely vital in encouraging and raising the aspirations of students over the course of their careers. Winning a place at Oxford takes hard work and dedication, and having the support of a committed teacher is for many students what makes the difference in pushing them to apply and make the strongest application they can. I hope this award will send the message that students and universities recognise how valuable the role of a supportive teacher can be.'
Oliver Baggaley, a teacher at Westfield Academy in Watford, received an award after being nominated by Kenny Dada (pictured). Kenny said: 'Mr Baggaley was really instrumental in pushing me to get that higher mark and challenging me to aim higher. He didn't let me be complacent at all; he said, "Now you've got that place you need to work for it". I have had Year Sevens coming up to me in the corridors saying "we want to apply to Oxford now", so I felt very honoured but also very scared at the same time. The period from January to results day was the hardest I've worked in my life.'
Another winning teacher is Andrea Lucas from The Holy Cross School in New Malden. Ms Lucas said: 'This was a wonderful surprise and I feel honoured to receive this award from Oxford University. It is particularly special to have been nominated for the award by a student. I love my work and always aim to communicate my passion for learning so it is very rewarding when students such as Isabel respond to the challenges set and reach their potential.
'We work hard to encourage all of our students to have high aspirations, and for the most able this includes developing the confidence, skills and academic requirements to study at Oxford or Cambridge, together with other top universities and competitive courses. This takes time and requires sensitivity in order to achieve the delicate balance between encouraging high aspirations and avoiding excess stress and pressure for the students. Students may have high-achieving potential but without self-belief and enjoyment of learning this may not be realised.'
The winning teachers received a trophy and certificate from the Vice-Chancellor and a £100 book token donated by Oxford University Press, which is a department of the University.
The award scheme recognises the crucial role teachers and careers advisers play in encouraging talented students in their schools or colleges. A selection of current first-year Oxford undergraduates were asked to nominate teachers or careers advisers for the award who inspired them to apply to Oxford, fostered their passion for a particular subject or supported them through the application process. The students were all from selected UK state schools or colleges with a limited history and tradition of sending students to Oxford.
Oxford University spends more than £5.5 million each year on more than 2,200 outreach events, reaching virtually all UK schools which produce candidates capable of making a competitive application to university. Work with teachers is a key priority for the University's outreach work, including a series of regional teachers' conferences each year, a one-day event for Oxford's own PGCE programme, and working with Teach First participants.
The winning teachers are:
- Oliver Baggaley, Westfield Academy, Watford
- Theresa Ball, Barnhill Community High School, Hayes
- Mary Bradford, Sir John Leman High School, Beccles
- Miss Davis, Hinchley Wood School, Esher
- Andrea Lucas, The Holy Cross School, New Malden
- Stephanie Lucas, St Joseph's RC School & 6th Form Centre, Port Talbot
- Victoria Mandizha, Brentford School for Girls, Brentford
- Carole Slade, Notre Dame RC Secondary School, Plymouth
- Keith Wood, Gosforth Academy, Newcastle Upon Tyne
- Jayne Wright, Brigshaw High School, Allerton Bywater