Celebrating National Thank a Teacher day – Mary Palmer, Director of the Teaching Awards Trust

“At the Teaching Awards Trust, our mission is to celebrate and recognise excellence in education, to raise the profile of the teaching profession and to highlight the huge impact teachers and school leaders have in our society – with pupils, parents and the wider community.  We want to show teachers how much they are valued, and we do this through the annual Pearson National Teaching Awards and the Thank a Teacher Campaign – which we’re celebrating today.

As I and thousands of parents sit down each morning to get our young ones to engage in yet another day of homeschooling during the coronavirus lockdown, never before have we been so appreciative and in awe of the role teachers, and indeed the whole school environment plays in our children’s lives. Meanwhile, teachers and school staff are still out there on the front line, looking after our vulnerable children in the classroom, enabling key workers to get to their jobs, whilst also tirelessly preparing lesson plans and engaging remotely with those in lockdown at home – coming up with ever more inventive ways to engage, inspire and enthral. As our Patron Michael Morpurgo put it “Teachers are the quiet heroes. We should honour them, for they have in their care the next generation, our whole future”.

Our annual Thank a Teacher campaign is nearly 10 years old, launched back in 2011 by the grime artist Tinchy Stryder in a South London primary school.  The idea behind the campaign was, and remains to this day, to enable parents, pupils and colleagues to publicly acknowledge the inspirational acts of kindness, support and everyday life-changing teaching they are lucky enough to receive.

These ‘Thank yous’ work as a stand-alone public recognition for a teacher,  but they also help us, as organisers of the ‘Oscars of the education world’ – The Pearson National Teaching Awards – to identify outstanding teachers and school support staff, and follow up with the school directly to encourage their head to put them forward into the awards – should they choose.

As Director of the Teaching Awards Trust, I have the privilege of hearing first-hand about the fabulous work that takes place in our schools on a daily basis throughout the country. I get to meet amazing, award-winning teachers, who are recognised by our Pearson National Teaching Awards every year, and read the thousands of messages sent through our Thank a Teacher campaign.  I am continually moved by the enormous impact so many teachers have on pupils, parents and colleagues, and struck by how they are always so humble and so modest about their achievements.

In the build up to the day, we’ve been asking everyone to share their messages of thanks and we’ll be sharing as many of these as possible throughout today.  If you know someone who deserves a special thank you, you can go to www.thankateacher.co.uk and send them a free personalised e-card, or go to our Twitter (@uk_ThankaTeacher) and post your message of thanks there. 

Teaching as a profession is pivotal to the success of our society. And when you get an amazing teacher – it can be life-changing, as so many high achievers regularly attest. So from me, thank you from the bottom of my heart, as a parent, as Director of the Teaching Awards, and as someone who has – like the rest of us – had a stark reminder of our vulnerability and how important schools are in the cogs that keep our society turning. Teachers, we salute you!” 

Mary Palmer, Director of the Teaching Awards Trust

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