Stuart blogged recently about Innovative Teacher Dan Roberts winning Becta’s award for Next Generation Learning in the South West of England. Yesterday I had the opportunity to attend the London ceremony for the Teaching Awards.Capture Microsoft is working with the Teaching Awards this year to present an award and to bring one lucky head teacher with us to the Innovative Teachers and Innovative Schools Forums in Brazil in November. Together with the Teaching Awards, we ran an essay contest asking head teachers the following question.

What factors do you see as essential for a teacher’s professional development to successfully engage learners in a 21st century curriculum and how does technology play a role?

We’ve received some great responses to this question from head teachers all over the country who are doing some interesting and varied work in providing professional development for their teachers. It’s going to be a difficult job selecting only one head teacher to accompany Stuart, Ollie, Mandeep and me to Brazil, but I’m certain that we’ll end up with someone who can really benefit from and contribute to the conversations at the event.

Tuesday’s London awards were really inspirational. The event opened with a short talk from Olympic athletics champion Sally Gunnell, who spoke about being inspired by one of her PE teachers. She described this teacher as strict, making the girls go outside to do handstands so that she could make sure they all were wearing navy blue knickers to match their uniforms. (Not sure that would fly in schools today…) But what was most important to Sally was that the teacher believed in her and encouraged her to do something she might not have thought to do on her own. In Sally’s case, as a daughter of farmers from Essex, that something was joining a running club. And the rest, as they say, is history.

This sentiment was echoed throughout the awards, in the testimonials gathered from teachers, governors, pupils and parents in support of each of the Teaching Award winners. I loved the comment from one pupil, saying about their teacher that “It’s as if she’s teaching only me, even though I know I’m part of a whole class.”

For the first time this year, Becta offered the Next Generation Learning award, which is what Dan won. At the London awards, the winner of this award was advanced skills teacher Dan Lea of Gearies Infant school in Guilford. Dan’s bio was extremely impressive – his pupils use blogs and YouTube to communicate their learnings to their parents, and they even hold a film festival of pupil-created films. And these kids are 4 years old! Dan works with 11 schools and uses video conferencing to help other teachers to use technology in their teaching.

I was truly impressed by all the award winners today. It was a great way to spend an afternoon. Stuart and I will keep you updated as to the head teacher who is selected to join our team in Brazil. Look for more opportunities like this in the coming school year!