Ten teachers given a share of £140,000 to fund projects to help disadvantaged children

The Let Teachers SHINE awards has given ten innovative teachers a share of almost £140,000 to fund new project ideas to help disadvantaged children.

The annual Let Teachers SHINE awards, run by the education charity SHINE and supported by Tes, back great teachers by helping to make their ideas a reality. 

Winners receive grants of up to £25,000 to pilot projects designed to help disadvantaged children in the North to flourish at school. 

This year’s winning programmes will support children of all ages, from the early years to post-16 education. 

Helen Rafferty, interim chief executive of SHINE, said: “Congratulations to all the winners of this year’s Let Teachers SHINE competition. This year’s awards were held during some of the most challenging times teachers have ever faced, making the quality of the applications all the more impressive. 

“Each of the teachers who took part in the competition demonstrated their innovation and commitment to really make a difference to the futures of children from low-income families. 

“We look forward to working with the winners to help them develop their ideas and help hundreds of children to succeed at school.” 

This year’s winners are: 

Julia Smith ­- 5Rsonline 

Maths teacher Julia’s project will give up to 150 teachers from at least fifteen colleges in the North East and Yorkshire free online access to a bespoke GCSE maths revision curriculum. 

Around 3,000 students will log on to receive a daily dose of maths, curated by Julia and grounded in research. 

“This programme is motivational, it’s engaging, and it’s up to the student which bits they want to do, It’s 24/7 learning and it allows the students to be the architect of their own learning,” Julia said. 

“Ultimately, Let Teachers SHINE is about making a difference and I know this project can have a big impact. If students can get that qualification, it makes such a difference to their futures. They will also develop a greater understanding of maths and hopefully enjoy the experience as well.” 

Luke Helstrip – Impact of STEM 7 

Luke Helstrip, a chemistry teacher at Leeds Sixth Form College, has devised a project that helps to develop students’ “soft skills”, such as creative thinking, communication, problem solving and collaboration, allowing them to make faster progress in their lessons. These skills will help the students as they apply for jobs, or university places. They could also help to improve exam results. 

“I was raised and educated within an area of high deprivation, so I understand the struggles and lack of knowledge that students face in relation to their applications and own progression through education,” said Luke. “It’s an issue that has always come up while I’ve been teaching, so it’d be nice to see if I can do something to actually make a change to that.” 

Rachel Ward – Ready Let’s Read 

Rachel Ward, from Moston Fields Primary School, Manchester, hopes to tackle poor literacy levels in school starters with her Ready Let’s Read project. 

Rachel is a specialist in a teaching programme known as Reading Recovery, which has decades of research behind it and targets Key Stage 1 children. Ready Let’s Read is a pre- Reading Recovery intervention, taking the success of the Reading Recovery research, philosophy and practice and creating something to support the most vulnerable children and families in Early Years. The Ready Let’s Read project aims to accelerate literacy learning through a series of daily 20-minute sessions with small groups of children. 

“We need to use the research from the Reading Recovery intervention and create an additional intervention which is expertly taught so that early vocabulary and literacy gaps are narrowed,” said Rachel. “We’ve been saying for years that we need something like this, but without the resources, money and the capacity it’s not been possible. Until now.” 

Victoria Wilson – Learning Links 

Victoria Wilson, from St Paul’s Catholic Primary School in Billingham, Teesside, has created a set of inspiring home-learning activities for children in the early years. Her Learning Links packs are engaging, easy to use, and do not require access to technology, meaning they are accessible to all. 

“Over recent years my local area has had a great deal of bad news with families suffering due to the shutting of many of our key industries such as the steel works and most recently the COVID-19 crisis, Victoria said. 

“We need hope in these uncertain times, and we need to stand up and support one another and that’s just what I’m going to do. I’m thinking big because I want to make a change.” 

Sam Slingsby – Numeracy Bridger 

Sam Slingsby, from the pupil referral unit Educational Diversity, in Blackpool, is working on a project aimed at improving the numeracy skills of the town’s most vulnerable children who are currently below the average for their age. 

Numeracy Bridger practitioners will work with children on a one-on-one basis, developing their basic maths skills. The programme has been designed to be “powerful, yet simple,” and not “time consuming or difficult to deliver”. 

“I’m hoping this project will prove to make a difference to the children who need supporting the most and make a real impact on their futures,” Sam said. 

Lucy Huelin – Vocabulous 

Lucy Huelin, a classics teacher at Bootham School, is creating an innovative and engaging website aimed at building the language skills of disadvantaged children in Year 7 at secondary school. 

Using videos, quizzes and games, students will learn Latin root words and their derivatives, hone skills to work out new words and compete to climb the leaderboard. 

“When you’ve got an idea that you think has legs and that could make a difference, it is amazing to be given the support, the money, the contacts and the platform to actually enable it to happen,” Lucy said. 

“For those students who are arriving at secondary school with a word gap, explicit vocabulary learning is massively important, as a boost for them at the start of Year 7.” 

Anthony Wilkinson and Brooke Nolan – JigCom 

Anthony Wilkinson and Brooke Nolan, from Parklands Primary School, in Leeds, are developing an interactive classroom resource aimed at developing pupils’ language and communication by using jigsaws in a new and innovative way. 

The teachers plan to design and create an extensive range of jigsaws that will focus on enriching pupil’s vocabulary, ensuring that they can begin to learn to read and write with the necessary knowledge and understanding of language. 

“This is an idea I’ve had for some time and I felt like it could work,” said Anthony. “It’s brilliant that SHINE funds things like this because I’m not sure otherwise that I would have ever done anything about it. It would have just been in the back of my head for my whole life.” 

“We believe that JigCom could provide schools with a useful and creative resource for bridging the disadvantage gap between pupils,” added Brooke. 

Amy How – One tool- All of the facts 

Amy How, a teacher trainer based in West Yorkshire, uses the innovative rekenrek – a Dutch counting frame –  to transform number sense among young children. 

Through her project, teachers in five Yorkshire primary schools, will be trained in how best to utilise the highly visual and versatile resource. 

Amy said: “My passion for increasing enthusiasm in maths education is contagious. I believe this grant is a chance for me to make it happen on a large scale. 

“It’s about getting rekenreks in the hands of the children. And then watching them shine, watching them describe and discuss numbers and see their confidence grow. I just want to get started tomorrow.” 

Doug King – Flipped Tuition 

Doug King, assistant principal at Oldham Sixth Form College, is developing a new way of engaging parents in their children’s education. 

Doug’s project, Flipped Tuition, will use text messages and web-based resources to build the knowledge and confidence of parents to have positive discussions at home about studying. They will be offered support and advice that they can pass on to their children, helping to develop independent study skills and habits that can be used in all subject areas to help support students through their education. 

“I’m really pleased to have been given the funding and excited because it gives me an opportunity to start to develop ideas that began when I was involved in part of the Oldham Opportunity Area project,” Doug said. 

A further two teachers received support grants to further develop their ideas. They are Amanda Adams from St Michael’s Catholic Academy, Billingham, and Kate Oldfield from Throston Primary School, Hartlepool. 

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