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Mike Whittingham shows off his award with pupils of Haywood Academy

Local teacher in the running to be named one of ‘Britain’s Classroom Heroes 2016’

On Sunday 23rd October, Mike will attend a glittering awards ceremony at The Guildhall, London where he will find out if he has won a prestigious UK Pearson Teaching Award, also known as a Gold Plato Award. Mike was nominated for the accolade by pupils, parents and colleagues in the Haywood Academy community.

The ceremony, hosted by star of ‘Outnumbered’ and ‘Mock the Week’ Hugh Dennis, is an annual event that celebrates the very best of the UK’s teaching profession and will be broadcast on BBC2 on 30th October. It will see 10 Gold Plato awards handed out across categories such as Excellence in Special Needs Education and Lifetime Achievement.

Back in June of this year, Mike was recognised for his exceptional contribution to the teaching profession as one of just 52 Silver Teaching Award winners in the UK, winning his award in the category The Award for Teacher of the Year in a Secondary School.

Mike 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. In its first year, 76% of Work Based Learning students moved on to an apprenticeship and 24% moved on to further higher level studies.

Carl Ward, Chief Executive, City Learning Trust and Executive Headteacher, said: “Some of Mike’s greatest attributes are his boundless energy, commitment to his students and his recognition of the value of the educative process in providing a better future for young people. When planning began for Haywood Sixth Form Academy, I chose Mike be the key person to make it achievable, and he has made a major contribution to the on-going development and progress of the school in the relatively short time that he has been in post. He creates a friendly, demanding, and supportive learning environment and has brought a greater sense of relevance and purpose to the teaching of science and has worked hard with colleagues to instil core values and teaching strategies. Mike is a very popular teacher, with his students and with his colleagues. He is much admired and respected.”

Mike Whittingham, Deputy Headteacher, said: “It’s such an honour to be a finalist for the award. I don’t think for a second that I’ll have won it but I’m really looking forward to going to the awards evening on Sunday and finding out about some of the excellent teaching taking place at schools up and down the country. For me, the real reward is seeing my students do well. We are all very passionate about our students at Haywood Academy and Haywood Sixth Form Academy and want to create real life opportunities for them.”

The Pearson Teaching Awards is an annual celebration of exceptional teachers and teaching, founded in 1999 by Lord Puttnam, they recognise the life-changing impact of an inspirational teacher on the lives of the young people they teach.

Actor and comedian Hugh Dennis, host of this year’s BBC Classroom Heroes said: “I am genuinely proud and honoured to be hosting this year’s ceremony. The inspiration and support of my fantastic teachers got me to where I am today, and I look forward to joining in and celebrating other teachers’ incredible achievements as well.”

Rod Bristow, President of Pearson UK, said: “A huge congratulations to the 2016 Teaching Award winners. Pearson is so proud to sponsor this celebration – great teaching makes the biggest difference to a child’s education and it’s incredibly important that we take this moment each year to recognise that”.

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The City Learning Trust is set to break new ground by putting lifelong education at the heart of how we adapt locally to a changing world. Its vision, ambition and commitment to pupils will drive its success.

Joan Walley

Former Stoke-on-Trent North MP