Two UK teachers shortlisted for million dollar global teacher prize

David Swanston, a teacher in Liverpool (PA)
7:00am, Thu 09 Sep 2021
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Two teachers in England have made the shortlist for the world’s “best teacher” award which includes prize money of one million US dollars.

The Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize now in its seventh year, was set up to recognise one exceptional teacher who has made an outstanding contribution to the profession.

David Swanston, who works in Liverpool, and Cat Davison, a teacher in Kent, have made the top 50 shortlist from more than 8,000 nominations and applications.

Mr Swanston, a teacher of the visually impaired at St Vincent’s School in Liverpool, has been helping pupils with visual impairments for more than a decade and his approach to teaching is personalised according to their level of vision.

Currently, Mr Swanston is working on the development of rugby specifically for the blind by modelling game play and creating ball prototypes using textures and electronics.

Their stories clearly highlight the importance of education in tackling the great challenges ahead – from climate change to growing inequality to global pandemics

Also shortlisted is Ms Davison, a critical thinking teacher at Sevenoaks School in Kent, whose curricula applying ethics to action prompted a surge of 120 student-led projects.

Ms Davison worked with teachers and students in Ghana and the UK to create EduSpots, a network of 42 community-led solar-powered libraries.

The winner of the Global Teacher Prize 2020, announced in December, was Ranjitsinh Disale – a village primary school teacher from India who was praised for improving the education of girls.

Jamie Frost, a maths teacher from a school in south-west London, also won a one-off global Covid Hero Award of 45,000 dollars (£33,000) for his efforts during the pandemic to help keep pupils learning.

Two students in England have also made the top 50 shortlist for a new sister award, the Chegg.org Global Student Prize 2021, which includes prize money of 100,000 dollars.

Elliott Lancaster, a 24-year-old postgraduate student at Keele University in Staffordshire, has been campaigning for mental health, social enterprise, sustainability and a solution to homelessness alongside his studies.

Also shortlisted is Ghanaian-born Enoch Opare Mintah, a 30-year-old student at University of Lincoln, who taught students in deprived communities and created the Ubuntu project – which connected a special needs school in the UK with mainstream students in rural Ghana at the height of the pandemic.

The top 50 shortlists will be narrowed down and the 10 finalists for both prizes will be revealed in October, and the overall winners are due to be announced at an awards ceremony in Paris in November.

Sunny Varkey, founder of the Varkey Foundation, said: “Congratulations to Cat, David, Elliott, and Enoch for reaching the final 50.

“Their stories clearly highlight the importance of education in tackling the great challenges ahead – from climate change to growing inequality to global pandemics.

“It is only by prioritising education that we can safeguard all our tomorrows. Education is the key to facing the future with confidence.”

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