Educators’ Trust Announcement: Awards 2022
4 March 2022
The Trust of the Worshipful Company of Educators announced today the winners of its 2021-2022 awards for outstanding educators. The Chairman of the Trust, Dr Jennifer Somerville, was delighted with the response to the call for nominations. ‘It is quite remarkable that, despite the organisational and financial challenges forced upon organisations by Covid, they have continued not only to deliver educational programmes but also to reach such high standards of creativity and innovation.’
The Trust’s main award, the Inspirational Educator Award, the theme of which was ‘Music Education’ coincided with the Master, Roy Blackwell’s theme for his magisterial year. So, it was a joyous year for the many music lovers in the Company. Nominations were received from both large national organisations and small charities doing inspirational work in this field. The panel of judges said that every one of the nominees deserved an award.
The eight winners, listed in alphabetical order, are:
Nicola Benedetti, Music education champion, founder of and tutor with the Benedetti Foundation for music education for all, nominated by Spitalfields Music Hub
Andrew Gamble, Executive Headteacher, Low Road & Windmill Music Federation,
nominated by Alan Yellup Education
Nick Hayes, Music in Prisons Project Leader, nominated by The Irene Taylor Trust
Laureen Hodge, Curriculum Leader for Music at North Cambridge Academy nominated by VOCES8
Matt Newell, Musician in Residence in HM Prisons, nominated by Changing Tunes
Nicholas Shaw, Youth Chorus Master, nominated by Opera North
Joe Townsend, Head of Popular Music, nominated by Trinity Laban Conservatoire
Suzi Zumpe, Creative Director of ENO Breathe, nominated by English National Opera
Other individual awards were won by:
Sarah Davis, Tutor in Heritage Books and Paper Conservation, nominated by The City & Guilds London Art School – The Award for Art & Design
Julia Harrington, Headmistress of Queen Anne’s School, Caversham, nominated by the Master of the Worshipful Company of Educators, Roy Blackwell – The Master’s Award for School Leadership
Sheryl Malcolm, INNOVATE Project Associate, nominated by the Young Vic – The Keith Hutton Legacy Award for Theatre and Performing Arts
Valeria Locatelli, Chief Auditor at M&G Investments, nominated by Speakers for Schools, London – The Mary Lou Carrington Legacy Award for a Businesswoman with a Significant Contribution to Education
Military awards were received by:
Sergeant Miles Fish, nominated by No. 22 (Training) Group RAF
Lieutenant Stuart Geary RN Training Officer Marine Engineering, nominated by the Defence School of Marine Engineering.
Lt Col Phil O’Callaghan RM, nominated by The Defence Academy
Major Catherine Oosterveer, nominated by Army Educators
ILM L3 – Lieutenant Commander (SCC) Michelle Welsh, ILM L4 – Major Andrew Davidson, ILM L5 – Pilot Officer Luke Bateson, nominated by the CVQO (Cadet Vocational Qualifications Organisation)
Other 2022 Awards:
The Trust has also awarded bursaries, co-funded with the City & Guilds, to Prison Peer Mentors nominated for the CPD Scheme by St Giles Trust.
The Trust and the Prisoners’ Education Trust regret that it was not possible to award their joint ‘Prison Educator of the Year’ Award 2022, because of Covid restrictions.
The Trust and the Worshipful Company of Educators wish all its winners most hearty congratulations.
2021 award winners.
Paul Jackson and the Master’s Award
The Master of the Worshipful Company of Educators awards a prize for outstanding school leadership every year. Paul Jackson won his for curriculum creativity and innovation.
Paul is headteacher of Manorfield Primary School in Poplar, an East London borough, one of the most deprived in the country and serving a diverse ethnic population.
Paul is passionate about creative education and its capacity to inspire children to learn. The breadth of subjects he has integrated into the primary curriculum is quite remarkable. As part of the Askit strand of the Helen Hamlyn Trust Open Futures initiative, Philosophy for Children was introduced into the curriculum for all pupils. Music is also central to the children’s school life. At Manorfield, all children have a music lesson a week, starting with singing in the early years, graduating to learning musical instruments in Year 2, and performing music from around the world. Paul was a founding trustee of The Gallions Music Trust and a trustee of the National Children’s Orchestra of Great Britain. Art is also important as an integral part of cross-curricular projects. Manorfield has an artist-in-residence and children have regular visits to exhibitions, galleries and museums.
Perhaps Paul’s most ambitious project is his vision of making Manorfield a carbon neutral school. He reviewed the school’s environmental impact and put measures in place to reduce its carbon footprint. Trees and hedging plants donated by the Woodland Trust are planted around the school perimeter and a ‘native wildlife area’ has been created to encourage biodiversity. The curriculum has also been ‘greened’. A garden has been created in the school grounds and a ‘gardener-in-residence’ appointed, who teaches the children how to grow and care for plants. These activities are linked to learning about the science of nutrition and food education. Children cook the food they grow and learn about the food cultures of the world. Each half-term, every class has an environmental visit to local nature reserves, outdoor spaces or woodlands.
Paul’s activities reach beyond his own school. He has recently taken over an outdoor education facility in Essex, to create a centre of excellence for environmental education, impacting far more widely than on just one school. He has also promoted his concept of creative education to policymakers, education and creative industry professionals at conferences and in the media.
This award celebrates Paul’s dedication to the idea of a creative education for all and the drive, inspiration and ability to make it happen.
Viv Lawes and the Geoffrey Bond Bursary for Art.
Viv Lawes is a lecturer in art history at the City & Guilds London Art School (CGLAS) as well as well as a curator, author and journalist. She specialises in the study of European and East Asian carved and craft objects, leading the History of Decorative Art and the History of Carving Techniques undergraduate courses. She is also a tutor at the University of the Arts London, and lectures at the School of Oriental and African Studies at London University and at Imperial College. She was also Programme Director of the Asian Art & Its Markets semester course at Sotheby’s Institute of Art. She is an accredited Arts Society lecturer and travels widely in the UK, Europe, Asia and Australasia.
Viv is a senior UK consultant to the Singapore gallery, ‘One East Asia’ and Larasati Auctioneers. In this role she has curated many commercial exhibitions of Southeast Asian modern and contemporary art in London and Singapore. She was recently appointed Head of Education for the London Asian and African Contemporary Art Fair, founded in 2020. She has also written for numerous specialist journals, newspapers, catalogues, handbooks and websites, aimed at both the academic and general readership in print and online.
Viv leads the new specialism in Books and Paper Conservation of the CGLAS BA and MA in Conservation in collaboration with leading specialists at the Tate, the National Archives, the Fitzwilliam Museum and the College of Arms. A suite of bespoke facilities creates an enhanced Conservation area within the Art School for teaching about paper artefacts, parchment, books and manuscripts, as well as delicate watercolours, illuminated manuscripts, maps of various materials and construction, and even paper-covered globes and paper-constructed models.
The Trust bursary will contribute towards the fees of a course for arts and heritage professionals run by the prestigious Attingham Trust. Viv will gain access to the libraries of Cambridge University and some of the greatest country house collections in Britain, and gain insights into the nature of book collecting as a manifestation of taste, antiquarianism and intellectual display. It will be invaluable to her teaching and research.
Here is Viv, demonstrating paper conservation techniques to students in Australia – note the forensic gloves!
Terri Duhon and the Mary Lou Carrington Award
This award is awarded annually to a businesswoman who has made a significant contribution to education. This year’s winner is Terri Duhon. She is a financial market expert with over 25 years of experience in financial markets and the author of ‘How the Trading Floor Really Works’. She started her career at JP Morgan after graduating in Maths from MIT and spent 10 years working as a derivative trader. She set up her own company, B&B Structured Finance Ltd and worked on several high-profile litigations and investigations.
At present she is the Non-Executive Chair of Morgan Stanley Investment Management Ltd and Morgan Stanley International, a Board member and Chair of the Risk Committee of Rathbones plc, an Associate Fellow at The Said Business School at Oxford University and on the MIT Corporation Visiting Committee. She is an active volunteer for Speakers for Schools, the charity set up by the broadcaster, Robert Peston to provide expert speakers from leading industry professionals and academics to visit state schools and colleges free of charge, to inspire and motivate the students.
However, Terri says that her biography is a bit misleading. “I didn’t just skip through life… I worked hard and I dreamed big, and I had epic falls on the way…. Those lessons learned are a big part of my story.” In her talks for Speakers for Schools, Terri reflects on how failure can be a valuable learning experience to teach you how to overcome obstacles, and how lack of confidence, not lack of skills, acts as a barrier to success, particularly for women. She was a founding member of the Women’s Leadership Group for the Prince’s Trust. For Speakers for Schools, she also runs sessions about careers in finance and how to access them. Teachers and students alike report that Terri is an engaging speaker to whom students feel a connection. Her story of the tears, the grit and determination on her own personal journey inspires students and makes a long-lasting impact on their aspirations. She is one of Speakers for Schools most popular contributors.
More formally, Terri also contributes to education as a lecturer on the innovative experiential MBA and MSc in Financial Economics at Oxford University and to the immersive online modules of the Oxford Algorithmic Trading Programme. Terri feels that “as a product of the state school system in the US, I believe in the power of education and positive role models.” She certainly is providing that to British school children!
Glen Stewart and the Keith Hutton Legacy Award for Theatre and Performing Arts
The Trust is delighted to celebrate the acknowledgement of circus arts as valuable contributor to the field of theatre and performing arts by awarding this award to Glen Stewart, the Director of Professional Development at The National Centre for Circus Arts (NCCA) in London.
The contemporary circus, blending traditional circus skills with other performing arts, is now big business in the entertainment industry, witness the phenomenal success of Cirque du Soleil. The wider range of knowledge and skills of the new circus required a more demanding and longer period of education and training. So, circus arts found its way into higher education. In the UK, two HEIs offer degree courses in circus arts, the most prestigious of which is the NCCA.
As well as teaching undergraduates, Glen delivers CPD for the teaching team, maintaining cutting edge knowledge of the science and the skills necessary to ensure that circus artists of the future are well trained, and able to manage their own fitness, skills and wellbeing throughout their careers. He also leads for the National Centre in research and knowledge exchange around health, wellbeing and fitness. In 2015 Glen co-hosted a major UK Acrobatic Symposium involving internationally renowned specialists from the fitness industry, physiotherapy and performing arts medicine. This led to a number of research projects including Height Fright, a project with Conservatoire for Dance and Drama schools, UCL and industry.
Glen’s expertise is greatly sought after by theatre producers, (The Bridge Theatre’s recent Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Tamasha’s The Arrival), film directors (Victor Frankenstein, Dumbo), television producers (BBC’s Tumble) and various other commercial entrepreneurs. He acts as ambassador for the sector, ensuring that circus is recognised as an important ingredient in the storytelling lexicon by providing a link to industry. Recent projects with the Lawn Tennis Association and Chelsea Football Club have seen Glen develop work that has embedded circus activity into the regular schedules of elite athletes to help diversify and enrich their training.
Community education is also important to Glen. He leads a programme with schools and youth centres to deliver training to young people, and to their teachers and youth workers, to ensure ongoing circus training, supported by online resources. This hugely increases access to circus training for youngsters, which not only improves physical fitness and agility but also increases self-confidence, self-esteem and self-control.
Glen hails from New Zealand. He was an international gymnast before becoming a gymnastics coach which opened the door to the world of performance and circus.
The Inspirational Educator Award
The theme of the Inspirational Educator Award changes every year. This year the theme was, very topically, Environmental Education. There are eight winners in this category, all of them outstanding.
Donna Ashlee is an Assistant Principal at Brockhill Park Performing Arts College, a mixed comprehensive school in Hythe, Kent, with a most unusual rural dimension – it has a working farm on site! Hence the lamb in the photo with Donna and her inscribed crystal plaque!
The farm is home to a range of native and continental beef cattle, commercial sheep, rare breed pigs, free-range hens and a variety of small animals. It includes a walled garden, glasshouses and a small farm shop supplied with produce from the farm. One classroom overlooks the traditional farmyard, and another is upstairs in the main farm building itself.
While the farm has always been a valuable resource to the school, it was Donna’s vision and drive that transformed it into a whole-school signature, integrating its learning capacity into the curriculum through the strategy, ‘Shaping the Future through Creative Learning’.
Every area of the curriculum is involved. Mathematics trails study feed quantities and stocking density; Art students draw animals from life; Drama uses the setting as a location for a play; and Design Technology creates products such as bird feeders. Engagement with a commercial farm ensures that students’ knowledge of farming practices is constantly updated, providing them with insights into an industry unfamiliar to most young people.
Donna’s reach is wider than one school. She arranges regular visits from feeder primary schools and, through her chairmanship of the School Farms Network, involves over 120 school farms across the UK. Donna also supports local schools through the national ‘Farmer Time’ initiative – video calling to local schools to offer farm updates and tours. Donna was central to the Teenager Research Project commissioned by Linking Environment and Farming which examined the relationship between teenagers and food and farming. From this, the national ‘Farming Fortnight’ was launched, involving Brockhill, which reached tens of thousands of teachers and young people and featured on BBC’s Countryfile.
Donna’s work has provided invaluable insights into the contemporary challenge of engaging teenagers with understanding where food comes from, food security and environmental sustainability. Her success is not only her knowledge and skill but the drive and enthusiasm that she brings to the learning process; she instils a passion for the environment in her students.
Gabrielle Back’s signature in the world of environmental education is her integration of science and the arts. She has an academic background in both, and this led her to develop a genuine creative cross-curricular approach to the teaching of environmental education and become a leading light in Coventry and the West Midlands, and Chair of the National Association for Environmental Education. Under her leadership, her school became one of the first eco schools in the UK.
Gabrielle’s pioneering teaching programmes led to national and international recognition. Her numerous awards include the Tetra Pak Environmental Award, the European Award for Environmental Education, two Living Earth International Awards and the QMBA for school environmental improvements. She participated in the first International Environmental Education World Conference, represented the UK at the International Seminar on Sustainable Development and was the delegate for UK science teachers on the NASA researcher programme in Florida.
Gabrielle (here in dark glasses) receiving an international award for her environmental education achievements.
Retirement opened new doors for Gabrielle’s crusading spirit. She is a founding member and the Chair of SAVERS, a charity devoted to educational engagement with environmental issues. It reaches 2,500 children every year with around 10,000 visitors to its exhibitions. In 2017 SAVERS was awarded the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service (QAVS). The citation reads “Raising awareness of environmental sustainability through a creative and artistic approach”.
Gabrielle has initiated, developed and led numerous projects, featuring predominantly recycled material questioning the sustainability and ecological impact of the artistic process. Using perishable materials in collages and sculptures, Gabrielle’s projects both demonstrates the potential beauty of waste products and at the same time their ephemeral nature. The artwork from the project, Eco Footprint Creative Survey and Collages, shown below, illustrates this point.
‘Re-Create’ was a creative guide to paper recycling and producing beautiful objects. Gabrielle’s projects have also included a recycled fashion show! Her most significant projects are probably the Energy Action Education Project which formed the UK’s submission to the first Energy Globe Award Educational Segment, and the UK’s National Earth Summit Youth Apple Pledges Project.
She also uses poetry to stimulate children’s experience of the environment, with children’s green poetry anthologies, ‘Green to Grey’, ‘Climate Change’, ‘Rain drop, Tear drop’, ‘Green Hearts’, and she uses children’s art illustrations of environmental themes in the ‘Green Book’, an annual reference book on environmental best practice.
Gabrielle’s creative approach to environmental education has inspired generations of children.
Following a first degree in zoology, a master’s in Ecology, Evolution and Conservation, and a PGCE in Secondary Science, Katy began her career in zoo education, first at Dartmoor Zoo, then at Paignton Zoo. There she helped develop and deliver the national curriculum in applied science, and taught BTEC Land and the Environment. From the start, Katy was a big advocate of family learning and loves creating opportunities for self-directed learning through play. She extended the informal offer, initiating a ‘Junior Vet Experience’, introducing junior sleepovers and a club for teenagers.
Her next post was as Education Manager for the Royal Parks Foundation, based in Hyde Park, London, where she set up the immediately popular schools programme, introduced training for teachers and established a new community engagement programme targeted at hard-to-reach groups. She managed large environmental education projects across other Royal Parks, joined the management committee of Linking Environment and Farming (LEAF) and represented the Royal Parks on several other boards. When she moved to the Royal Botanical Gardens Kew, she redeveloped its secondary schools programme, participated in the family learning activities and led the successful bid for the Learning Outside The Classroom (LOTC) Quality Badge.
She joined the charity, Groundwork, and transformed the Iver Environment Centre, injecting new ideas and new energy into the education programme. Her creative ideas range from a cross-curricular ‘Pirates in the Park’ day for primary schools, to a ‘Plant Pathogens’ session for secondary students where they use ultraviolet to explore disease transfer before identifying and dissecting diseased plants to find the pests. She has encouraged staff at the Centre to develop their knowledge and skills with training sessions, visits and participation in the National Grid Environmental Education Network and LEAF conferences and workshops. Katy embraces technology and has enabled both staff and volunteers to see the benefits and positively engage with it, enabling the Centre to adapt well to remote learning under COVID conditions. As a manager, Katy promotes an open culture, including the whole team in development work, and she applies the same enquiry-based learning approach to professional staff development and to the volunteer programme that she has created.
Katy’s major task currently is developing the site for environmental education. She has successfully procured significant grants for capital projects such as the pond restoration and has built lasting local partnerships that bring not only funding but also volunteer labour and donated materials to the site. In doing so she has cementing the relations with the local communities which the Centre serves and directly engaging them with issues of the environment and sustainability.
Kate Bygrave is a Learning Project Officer with the Open Spaces Department of the City of London Corporation, which manages major London green spaces, such as Hampstead Heath and Epping Forest, each with a unique environment and a diverse local community. The Learning Team engages with over 5000 participants a year, delivering three formal curriculum-based school visits programmes, open family play sessions and school holiday activity schemes.
Kate has an academic background in Youth and Community Work, working in school, play and youth settings before specialising in conservation and environmental education. Her innovative approach integrates the principles and practices of Youth Work with elements of Environmental Education, Forest Schools and Citizen Science, to create a distinctive series of stimulating programmes. Each programme is bespoke, geared to the progression of skills development in tandem with that of self-confidence and self-esteem. She says that how participants feel is as important as what they know. The sessions are closely linked to the Open Spaces’ wider conservation and maintenance plans, so participants learn about and are involved in, for example, removing invasive species, supporting camera trapping projects, assisting with ecological surveying, and the installation of growing areas and the maintenance of the provisions site.
An example of Katy’s approach is the highly successful ‘Green Talent’ programme. Targeting annually 150 young people ‘at-risk’, aged 13-19, its original focus was on careers development. But Katy has re-oriented it to concentrate more on personal and social development, building confidence and self-esteem. It has been shortlisted for a Horticultural Week Community Award and an Institute of Outdoor Learning Community Development Award.
Kate has also designed a number of bespoke programmes for schools. For Woodfield School (SEND) it focused on practical horticulture skills and conservation management, enabling students to develop a horticulture enterprise within the school and to enhance their life-skills. For White Trees Residential School, sessions were designed to support Duke of Edinburgh Awards, Volunteering Awards, and to increase student’s wellbeing. Courses for Pupil Referral Units used bushcraft, survival skills and tool use to increase the engagement, learning and confidence of the students. Staff and colleagues alike comment on how Kate inspires aspiration and achievement in young people.
Kate is an active member of the City of London’s Diversity Network and Mental Health Forum, its Youth Board and its Culture Mile. She is also a member of the North Camden Zone Steering Group, City Hall’s London Youth Participation Network and Waltham Forest Youth Network. She is a passionate advocate for environmental education.
Ann Finlayson is a national and international leader in environmental education. For over 20 years she has held many major positions: Head of Education at the World Wildlife Fund UK, Commissioner for Education and Capacity Building for the UK Sustainable Development Commission; CEO and subsequently Chair of Sustainability and Environmental Education (SEEd); Chair of the Community Benefit Society Solar for Schools; and Co-Chair of Our Shared World (a coalition of UK educational organisations promoting Sustainable Development).
It was as a Countryside Ranger that Ann became convinced of the transformational power of outdoor education. She trained as a teacher and worked in Canada and Australia for many years as a hands-on environmental educator. She developed a lifelong interest in learning theory, which informs all her work. She uses transformative pedagogies: action learning, systems and futures thinking and change management, as tools to affect the ways people think about and act in the environment. She also developed innovative and differentiated methods of self, peer and external assessment to produce a robust body of evidence for programme evaluation.
At WWF-UK in 2000, Ann designed the innovative whole-school approach to sustainability, which was included in the UK’s Sustainable Schools Initiative. It was adopted by UNESCO in its Global Action Programme, which Anne designed, led, trained and monitored. In 2001 she designed the first online course in Education for Sustainable Development for WWF.
In 2008, Ann founded SEEd and built it up to an organisation of over 5,000 members, with an international reputation in the field. It offers a comprehensive programme of training, coordination, information, advocacy and alliance building. SEEd works with schools, colleges, universities, online and in training settings and is a leading organisation for delivering sustainability courses for teachers, business leaders and policymakers. It organizes an annual Youth Listening Survey reaching 3,000 young people and a Young Changemaker’s Action-Learning Programme is being rolled out through UK schools. Ann continues to train staff at SEEd, writes materials and articles, runs workshops, contributes to conferences and think-tanks, and advises schools, colleges and universities, governments and other jurisdictions as well as trans-national organisations like UNESCO. She is indefatigable in the cause of the environmental education.
When Birkwood Primary School, Cudworth, a deprived ex-mining area in South Yorkshire signed up for the Helen Hamlyn Trust’s Open Futures Project to broaden and enrich the curriculum of primary schools, the Governors appointed a young fine artist with a passion for horticulture, to develop the GrowIt strand of the curriculum – Heather Greenwood, seen below..
Her challenge was to introduce engaging, practical and relevant activities through outdoor learning.
The first problem was the condition of the area for development, which was neglected and overgrown. Undeterred, Heather consulted local allotment users and assembled volunteers to help clear the site. Soon a Community Garden area was established and Heather’s activities with the children started. Suitable plants were chosen for the soil – vegetables, fruit and flowers. A Potting Shed was established so children can learn to grow from seed and to take and grow from cuttings. Polytunnels expanded production while a Wildlife Area preserved local habitats for insects and small creatures. Children learn how to use equipment safely, how to name and differentiate between species of plants. The pupils develop a deep understanding of the Science Curriculum linked to ‘plants and living things and their habitats’ and the processes of germination, photosynthesis and pollination, as well as plant ecology. Children learn these complex concepts through practical creative learning and problem-solving. They learn to make informed and responsible decisions about the environment. All children, no matter what their academic ability, thrive in Heather’s sessions due to the inclusive, hands-on and immersive experience that Heather creates for them.
Heather’s horticultural activities extend beyond teaching. She runs after-school gardening clubs all year round where pupils make bird feeders and bird and animal habitats, nurture and harvest plants in the Community Gardens and maintain and develop the Wildlife Area. She set up a Gardening Shop, where children sell surplus young plants to encourage parents and the community to grow at home. She also organizes regular visits to local allotments and farms, RSPB and Wildlife Trust sites. The children, their families, the staff and local communities are very proud of the greening of the school. Heather’s dedication and success was acknowledged by The Yorkshire in Bloom judges, with the school receiving a Silver Gilt award in 2017 and then Gold awards in 2018 and 2019. In 2018 the school won fourth place in The Great Yorkshire Show among hundreds of entries. Heather is an asset to her school and the community – a real change-maker.
Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT) is the UK’s leading wetland conservation charity, with 200,000 members and over a million visitors every year. It conserves, restores and creates wetlands and saves wetland wildlife. Healthy wetlands provide huge environmental benefits, from carbon storage to flood protection, from thriving wildlife to human health and wellbeing.
Mark Stead is a National Learning Manager for WWT, overseeing the learning teams of 10 wetland centres. A graduate geography teacher he had 11years’ experience of primary and secondary schools and of training teachers and pupils across 9 European countries before joining WWT.
Mark is dedicated to environmental education. He completed an MSc whilst working full time, led the volunteer group for his local nature reserve, acted as a volunteer Eco-schools assessor and ran Forest School sessions for disadvantaged children in his spare time. At a wider level, he changed the focus of the WWT learning programme from one based largely on knowledge acquisition, to one that also promotes a deeper emotional connection to nature. The wetlands and their wildlife themselves have become the main learning resource. He has helped the Learning Department to become more outward focused. He chairs the Gloucestershire Environmental Education Partnership and is a key member of the Gloucestershire Local Nature Partnership. He also set up a teacher steering group so that teachers can input directly into the development of the learning programme. He also involved the WWF in the NatureEd Consortium of 30 organisations in their bid for Nature Friendly Schools funding.
During this challenging Covid year, he developed the content for the WWT home learning hub, enabling parents to connect their children with nature whilst covering key areas of the curriculum. The hub includes a full 12-week home learning programme with lesson plans and resources written specifically for parents. These are supported by instructional videos, fun ‘make it’ activities and quizzes. The hub has been accessed over 200,000 times since its launch in April 2020.
Recently Mark developed Generation Wild, a three-year programme aimed at engaging 15,000 disadvantaged children a year with nature and he secured £1.5 million for its delivery. He reviewed previous evaluation data that showed the impact of learning visits was limited by a lack of follow-up activity. Generation Wild will provide free training for teachers and parents to ensure long-term high quality nature connection as well as an online platform to promote continued engagement. The project activities will be co-created with the children, parents and teachers to reduce the barriers to participation. It is no surprise that Mark is much in demand as a speaker at conferences, research symposiums and workshops on environmental education.
Brender is a lecturer at Cornwall College, who jumped at the chance of leading The Beach Rangers Academy, set up to provide the educational component of a major project, Your Shore Beach Rangers Project which was designed to protect Cornwall’s marine environment through designated Marine Conservation Zones and local Marine Groups.
Brender is passionate about incorporating the environment into education, calling it a “lifelong process, from preschool to university level and beyond, creating a spiral of learning and engagement with the environment”. So, in the Academy, the four walls of the classroom are replaced by the coastal landscapes of Cornwall. The Academy programme delivers bespoke training to enhance the ‘life hacking’ skills of young people, a combination of business and administrative skills to run environmental enterprises, and practical coastal skills such as beach safety, geocaching, foraging, and marine surveys. Brender also includes training, yoga, meditation, wellbeing, volunteering and events as part of the programme – a multi-disciplinary approach to ensure a rounded education. There are three levels to the scheme – bronze, silver and gold – which encourages a sense of achievement and pride in learners while delivering tangible benefits in terms of qualifications for future careers.
Brender also makes sure that learners understand the wider context of the environment in which they live. By tackling issues around plastics, climate change and conservation in the areas they know, the global lessons are meaningful and have lasting repercussions. This 360-degree approach means it’s not just doing a beach clean, it’s having learners discuss the social, behavioural and other vital aspects of the bigger picture.
Outcomes are remarkable, particularly for one of the poorest regions in the UK. Brender’s students progress on to careers in the environmental sector and the green economy, or into university courses in this field. Her impact ripples out well beyond Cornwall College. She has been instrumental in building sustainable collaborative links with a network of organisations, including Spectrum, Young People Cornwall, Learn Your Way, local marine groups and plastic-free groups, Refill Cornwall and Surf Lifesaving Groups. Bodmin Community College is in the process of becoming an eco-school directly as a result of its involvement with Brender’s Programme. She has given presentations and training on The Beach Rangers Academy at universities and groups across the UK and her students have been invited to speak in Parliament and at national conferences on environmental issues. There is no doubt that Brender has implemented and overseen an inspiring and rewarding environmental and educational programme, with a demonstrably positive effect on thousands of young lives in Cornwall and beyond. In the words of one of the award judges, “This candidate’s energy bursts from the page. Truly inspirational”.