Mike Whittingham, Deputy Headteacher at Haywood Sixth Form Academy, has won silver in the national Teacher of the Year awards and will be heading to the finals in October where he could be crowned Teacher of the Year in a secondary school.
The Teaching Awards were established in 1999 by the Pearson Teaching Awards Trust, as a means of recognising and celebrating excellence in education. The Awards honour outstanding teachers and teaching and highlight just how vital success in education is to the health and wealth of the UK.
Every day nominations are submitted for exceptional teachers, lecturers, headteachers and teaching assistants up and down the country who help students aim high and achieve their potential, often meeting and overcoming considerable challenges along the way.
Rod Bristow, Chair of the Judging Panel, said: “The Pearson Teaching Awards gives us a unique opportunity to champion exceptional teaching professionals across the UK.
“The judges work on a voluntary basis and judging is an independent and peer-led process. The majority of the panel members are practising teachers and many are Teaching Award winners. The panel also includes representation from organisations across the educational spectrum. We are grateful to these dedicated professionals who give their time to ensure a smooth and credible process for those involved and to help celebrate the amazing people who work in our schools.”
Mike Whittingham has spent three years of his 20 year career to date, teaching at Haywood Academy and Haywood Sixth Form Academy and developing the Academy’s sixth form to provide opportunities so that any student can attend one of the top universities in the country or begin their chosen career as a confident, well-prepared, young adult.
One of Mike’s most notable successes has been the creation of Haywood Sixth Form Academy’s pioneering Work-Based Learning programme. The innovative curriculum model involves a four-week induction programme for students, followed by two days per week at Haywood Sixth Form Academy studying employability skills, Maths and English and three days per week completing work experience, developing professional skills.
The Work-Based Learning option is a ‘pre-traineeship’ and lasts for eight to twelve months. This is an education and training programme that is combined with real, beneficial, work experience and is focused on giving students the skills and experience that employers are looking for.
At the end of the programme, students receive a work-based learning qualification called “The Employment Certificate” assured by Pearson and then move onto an apprenticeship or job in their chosen field.
Since launching the programme in September 2015, Haywood Sixth Form Academy has been held up as a shining example to schools in other parts of the country for its pioneering programme.
Cheryl Woods MAEd, Apprenticeship and Professional Development Manager, Pearson said: “Mike is a true innovator, and passionate about supporting learners to reach their true potential, and acquire the skills they need to successfully progress into work, and support social mobility. He identified a gap in provision at the school, and by working with a range of local stakeholders was able to clearly articulate his vision and gain support to develop the WBL curriculum programme. This took belief and grit, as for many this was ‘going against the grain’ of what school did.”
Mark Williams and Monica Desor, EDT Education Director, Industrial Cadets Area Employer Engagement Manager, said: “When we visited Mike Whittingham at Haywood Academy in December 2014, we were very impressed by the developments planned for the sixth form centre due to open in September 2015 but frankly wondered whether it would be possible to fulfil expectations within the required timescale. The progress made has been truly amazing. Mike’s enthusiasm, dedication and determination to set up an innovative way of approaching individualised learning, raising aspirations and achievement and realising potential was and still is brave and ambitious but his qualities and abilities guaranteed the success of the venture to all stakeholders.
“EDT and Industrial Cadets have been fortunate to be part of the journey to date and because of Mike and his outstanding and equally dedicated team all targets have been achieve and a unique learning environment, portfolio of individual study programmes and quality work placements are all now embedded into a new curriculum model which may well be adopted by many others going forward.
“The students we met on the Work-Based Learning program set up by Mike, exuded motivation and commitment and were clearly enjoying their study programmes and work placements. The skills development and careers awareness experienced by the young people was evident for all to see. The impact on the students is considerable and value added significant but more importantly it is creating life changing opportunities for these youngsters in a socially deprived area. Mike is a teacher who genuinely makes a difference and possesses a vision that is forward thinking and student centred and clearly beneficial to all. Mike Whittingham deserves great credit and recognition for all his achievements with his students and staff.”
Fiona Hawkins, Managing Director of Plinkfizz, commented: “Encouraging students to achieve their potential in a top-class learning environment is a passion for Mike Whittingham. Plinkfizz has worked closely with Mike during the last three years to help visualise and communicate his ambition for his students and fellow colleagues.
“He is always keen to explore new and innovative ways in which his students can add value to their learning, often seeking expertise from and building relationships with business and the wider community – for the combined benefit of all involved with the Sixth Form.
“Mike spearheaded the Work-Based Learning Programme, a unique mix of education and work-ready skills, which involved a huge time-investment, embedding his team in the local business community and demonstrating a visionary solution to a localised issue.
“In my opinion, it is without doubt that Mike’s clarity of vision and tenacious drive to communicate this to students, parents, business and the community has positively impacted directly on the aspirations and outcomes of young people across the City.”
Testimonials to support Mike’s nomination for the Teacher of the Year Award flooded in from former parents, colleagues and students from his time at Q3 Academy and Ashby School, including one former student who is now an Assistant Vice-Principal himself.
Carl Ward, Chief Executive, City Learning Trust and Executive Headteacher, said: “Mike Whittingham has been described by one of his students as ‘a fantastic and inspiring teacher who is dedicated to getting the absolute best out of each and every student’. He is a high impact, high value, highly moral teacher with an infectious enthusiasm for teaching who has gone beyond the category of ‘outstanding classroom practitioner’, to inspire both students and teachers to achieve outcomes that have been transformational. Mike is a dedicated professional who cares deeply about the students and the progress they make and consistently demonstrates a commitment to each individual to maximise their potential.”