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Teachers Win National Awards

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Three teachers from Bolton School have won prestigious awards in this year’s Pearson’s National Teaching Awards, which were announced on National Thank a Teacher Day. 

Ms Naomi Lord, a former pupil who now works as Director of Creative Learning and Partnerships across the Bolton School campus, was Highly Commended in the Teacher of the Year in a Secondary School category. Ms Lord was the driver behind the Boys’ Division recently being re-accredited as an Artsmark Platinum school. The award – first afforded to the school in 2018 - signals that its arts and cultural provision remains at the highest possible standard. 

Considering what made her choose a career in teaching, Ms Lord said: ‘I have always been excited about the world and everything in it and compelled to share that wonder and intellectual curiosity with others. 

‘My career in education began in special educational needs mentorship; that is where I learned what a huge difference I could make to individual lives by lending my focus and support. It matters to be truly interested in people. Teaching came next and it was the making of me. 

‘I quickly worked out that the young people I worked with needed to know that what I was teaching mattered to me and why it should matter to them.  

‘I have the great fortune now to work in school partnerships and community arts - I enjoy a close relationship with my school and the opportunity to work out how we can enable all young people in our local area to access quality cultural experience and careers opportunities. 

‘I often pinch myself when I find myself directing large-scale productions, running festivals, asking businesses and local authorities to give up their time and resources to support youth projects. At heart I'm a shy person that fends off being overwhelmed by the world to try to make change for good. I often use the phrase “shoulder partners” to relate working together - to me being a teacher is walking in empathy with children to get them to all of the glorious places they can imagine.’ 

Mr Aaron Winstanley, also a former pupil, was a Bronze Winner in the Teacher of the Year in a Primary School award. He is the Design and Technology (D&T) Lead Teacher in the Junior Boys’ School at Bolton School. Besides being an outstanding teacher, it is the incredible range of extra-curricular clubs and activities that he runs that sets him apart from other educators. He looks to develop interests and talents of boys aged 7-11 through offering a Raspberry Pi Club, a D&T Club, a Climbing Club, a Sailing and Paddle Boarding Club, a Snow Sports Club and leading on a biennial ski trip. As a current England and GB water polo player, the boys are in excellent hands when they enrol for the school’s Water Polo Club too! In 2019, he became an Apple Distinguished Educator. He is also a Showbie Certified Educator and a Sphero Hero and, as such, pioneers the use of 3D printing with Sphero products, promoting this worldwide. As part of the School’s outreach, Mr Winstanley also coordinates the teaching of D&T to Y7-9 children from Thomasson Memorial School for the deaf. 

Having trained in secondary education, with D&T as a specialism, he explains how he wanted to move into teaching primary: ‘I felt I could offer pupils a better start in the subject I loved, than the start I had when growing up. I wanted to break down the barriers to primary D&T, which mean that it is typically left to a non-specialist, that it is too expensive to do properly and that it is less important than many other areas of the curriculum.’ 

Miss Jessica Sigrist, an English Teacher in the Boys’ Division of Bolton School, won a Certificate of Excellence in the Teacher of the Year Digital Innovator category. 

At the end of the former academic year, Head of Literacy in the Boys’ Division, Ms Sigrist, offered all incoming Year 7s the opportunity to consolidate their foundations in reading skills and technical accuracy by offering access to the Century Tech platform. Reflecting, Ms Sigrist said: ‘Century has had a huge impact on the reach and support we have been able to offer students almost instantaneously. 

‘As a result of its introduction, we currently have smaller gaps in terms of spelling, punctuation and grammar and reading ages than in other year groups. 

‘After 13 years of teaching in both state and the independent sector, the effect of technology is evidently increasingly impactful. 

‘We are now looking at using further digital technologies, including Lexonik Vocabulary as well as signing up for a trial in a new programme called Vocabulous which engages students in etymology of Greek and Roman words in a fun manner which should also support both reading and vocabulary understanding.’

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