We received a huge number of applications for the Let Teachers SHINE competition this year, and we’re delighted to announce our thirteen winning teachers from across the country. Each teacher has been awarded up to £15,000 to support their new idea to help disadvantaged children succeed in English, maths and science.

As a specialist funder of education projects in the North of England, this year we sought ideas from teachers with the potential for impact within the region. We were also looking for ideas across the following areas:

  • Ready for School: Improving the school readiness of children during the reception year, with a priority focus on language and communication skills (age 4-5)
  • Bridging the Gap: supporting vulnerable children who may not meet Age Related Expectations at primary school to make better academic progress during Key Stage 3
  • Flying High: supporting high attaining students to build on their achievements at primary school and stay on a high attaining trajectory during the first few years at secondary school (age 9-14).

We are looking forward to working closely with the following teachers as they pilot their exciting projects in their respective schools.

Jessica Howley: St John’s Church of England Primary School, Salford 

Evidence shows that early communication and language skills are essential to children’s life chances. Jessica’s project aims to develop this for young children in the local community before they start school, and engage parents in the development of early literacy skills. Jessica will invite parents and children to fun-filled storytelling sessions in the school’s own ‘Bubble Pod’. Families will also be provided with story sacks containing props, puppets and other resources to bring the magic of storytelling to life.

Benjamin Barker: King’s Leadership Academy, Warrington

Benjamin has found that many of his students are not challenged in science at secondary school and often are simply re-taught what they have already learnt at primary school. To address this, Benjamin will establish ‘Team Science’ to engage teachers and students in new, innovative methods of teaching that sufficiently stretch students and build the bridge between primary science and GCSE. Teachers will be provided with new resources to challenge pupils and students will be visited by expert scientists and given access to extra-curricular activities such as trips to world-leading laboratories.

Charlotte Pywell: Unity City Academy, Middlesbrough

Each year, more than 70% of disadvantaged children enter Charlotte’s school below the expected standards of attainment in literacy and numeracy. Charlotte plans to turn this around by creating a new summer school peer teaching system, where all new students who have not been deemed ‘secondary ready’ will be buddied up with a year nine mentor. Each mentor will guide the younger students through the primary school to secondary school transition, offering them insights into life at secondary and providing in-person and virtual coaching in core subjects.

Alice Eardley: City of Oxford College

Many of Alice’s students fail to achieve a C in their GCSE English resits because gaps in their vocabulary have a profound effect on their comprehension and writing skills. Whilst online vocabulary development resources are already available for teachers, Alice has not been able to find any to meet the needs of GCSE students. As a solution, Alice will develop Activate Learning, an edtech platform that aims to improve vocabulary through engaging activities, quizzes and puzzles. The online platform will also be supported by a range of resources and tools for teachers to use in the classroom.

Rebecca Hill: Bonus Pastor Catholic College, London

Engaging in extra-curricular activities can have a hugely positive impact on attainment at school as well as confidence and resilience, however, students from low income homes may not always have access to these opportunities. Rebecca’s project provides an innovative tech solution by offering digital ‘micro-volunteering’ opportunities to her students. One example of this is the Missing Maps project led by the British Red Cross and Médicins Sans Frontières. Students map crisis-prone parts of the developing world to enable emergency response teams to assess the needs of communities, respond to local disasters, and track the spread of disease. An early trial of Rebecca’s project has already boosted attendance and attainment and SHINE funding will help to ensure that more students can access this exciting new innovation.

Mark Sears: Northlands Wood Primary Academy, West Sussex

Disadvantaged students at Mark’s school can struggle to meet Age Related Expectations in maths and literacy in line with their peers. To engage students in maths and literacy, Mark will lead cutting-edge coding competitions. Students will be trained by experts to use coding devices to design games featuring mini Sphero robots controlled by iPads. Mark will embed maths and literacy proficiency into the training, encourage greater use of technology amongst pupils, and develop aspirations amongst students for careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths).

Nicol Winfield: Wyndham Primary Academy, Derby

Nicol has found that many of her students can find it difficult to engage with maths at home and in school, and one reason for this can be that parents don’t feel confident enough at maths themselves to empower their children. Nicol will lead sessions to help parents catch-up on key maths skills and offer an insight into how maths is taught to their children, including an explanation of the mastery approach to teaching maths, which has been introduced at her school. This will give parents the knowledge and confidence to support their children at home.

Six of our winning teachers are being supported to develop their ideas further as the basis to apply for Let Teachers SHINE next year:

Laura Murray: Barbara Priestman Academy, Sunderland – Supporting children with autism and complex learning needs with maths via ‘Writing Frames’

Emma Cree: Oakthorpe Primary School, Derbyshire – Developing communication and language via ‘Visual Phonics’

Phil Sheppard: Atlas Academy, Doncaster – Engaging children in reading at home and in school with the ‘Ultimate Reading Journal’

Jo Hackett: Oasis Academy, Bradford – Development of literacy via peer mentoring

Alba Fejzo and Tiago Carvalho: Stoke Newington School and Sixth Form, London – Achieving maths mastery by introducing mixed attainment groups and greater collaboration between students

Jake Sewell: Ormiston Venture Academy, Great Yarmouth – A science edtech platform for students who require challenge and stretch at secondary school

Find out more about Let Teachers SHINE