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Biology Teacher Shortlisted for National Award

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Boys’ Division teacher Mr David Teasdale has been named as one of the four finalists in the running for the Royal Society of Biology’s School Biology Teacher of the Year Award 2016. The award aims to recognise the best and most inspiring biology teachers in secondary education in the UK. The judges are looking for teachers who not only provide outstanding teaching, but also those who support high-quality extra-curricular activities and influence the teaching and learning of biology beyond their own institutions. It is a great achievement to have been shortlisted for this prestigious national award.

Mr Teasdale was surprised and happy to be shortlisted and said, “It is a reflection both of the hard work that I have put in and the support I have received from the School and the Biology department. My head of department, Marc Tillotson, has been particularly influential in encouraging and supporting me.

“Bolton School is an amazing environment to work in. We have great students; they are all so interested in the subject that it makes my job a pleasure. The colleagues at my school are fantastic to work with. They are so knowledgeable and generous with their time. I learn so much from working with them.”

As well as now teaching in the Boys’ Division, Mr Teasdale is an Old Boy of the School. He was encouraged to read biology at Durham University by biology teacher Dr Morgan, and his inspiration to go into teaching also comes from his mother and the “hilarious and incredibly engaging lessons” at A Level from Classics teacher Dr Reeson.

For the final stage of the competition, the judging team will meet the four shortlisted teachers at their schools and each of the finalists will submit a case study detailing how they have enhanced their students’ learning.

There is certainly plenty for Mr Teasdale to discuss in his report. In addition to sharing his enthusiasm for science in the classroom, he also helps to provide extra-curricular opportunities for pupils to engage with biology.

Since his arrival at Bolton School, he has set up the New Biology Society club and the exotic animal care club. The New Biology Society meets to discuss the latest issues within biology, and sessions are often themed around questions such as ‘Should we bring back the woolly mammoth?’ or ‘Are you smarter than slime mould?’ The club is currently involved in a joint international venture with a school in Holland, conducting experiments to try to understand the behaviour of slime mould with the goal of using stop-motion video to film the mould growing into the shape of a specific word.

The exotic animal care club has gone from strength to strength and expanded its collection since it was first set up. It has also recently experienced its first birth: the exciting arrival of baby cockroaches! The club offers groups of Year 7 pupils the opportunity to carry out tasks such as bathing the bearded dragon or collecting worms to feed the axolotl. Each group is supervised by a Sixth Form student who looks after the animal during the rest of the week. By choosing the animals they are going to look after and ensuring their needs are met, the boys gain empathy and insight.

Talking about these ventures, Mr Teasdale said, “Science should be a hands-on subject. At its core the joy of it comes from discovering new things through experimentation. Enrichment activities play a crucial role in allowing students to pursue and explore their interests. Having the collection of animals also allows us to carry out outreach work, for example a local SEN school visits the department regularly to handle and learn about the animals.”

He was also inspired by this year’s Joint Senior Production to bring together science and the arts in an innovative and entertaining way. Explaining the idea, he said, “This year the school’s production is ‘Doctor Faustus’. Knowledge and magic are strong themes within the play. I saw an opportunity to break down barriers between arts and science and recruited a team of students to be magicians to demonstrate a series of science-based tricks. The aim is to amaze and educate the audience about the scientific principles behind the tricks. The performers will display their tricks to members of the audience during the interval of the play and at a separate exhibition linked to the production.”

The School Biology Teacher of the Year Award winner will be announced later in the year.

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Mr Teasdale has been shortlisted for the School Biology Teacher of the Year Award

Mr Teasdale has been shortlisted for the School Biology Teacher of the Year Award

The Exotic Animal Care Club is one of the enrichment activities Mr Teasdale has set up for pupils

The Exotic Animal Care Club is one of the enrichment activities Mr Teasdale has set up for pupils