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Double award success for computer science team

Posted: 10 June 2022

Staff and students in the computer science department at West Nottinghamshire College are celebrating a double award success in this year’s ‘Oscars’ of the teaching profession.

The department has been named as a bronze winner in the Further Education (FE) Team of the Year category in the 2022 Pearson National Education Awards – one of only five colleges in the country to receive the accolade – while digital teacher Tommy Mannix was highly commended in the Award for Digital Innovator of the Year category.

The team was recognised for the way it successfully adapted to online teaching during the Covid-19 pandemic, when it continued to provide students with a full and enriching learning experience through the creative use of technology. When students returned to on-campus learning, the team created an entirely new, bespoke curriculum, offering learners an individualised course based on their own subject preferences and career aspirations.

Students can choose from a series of short, specialist modules that focus on the development and practice of technical computing skills that meet the area’s skills needs. This allows them to customise their own learning by selecting topics of interest, while gaining the skills and knowledge required by the fast-moving digital industry.

While each teacher delivers their session to their cohort within the classroom, other teachers and groups of students join in using remote technologies such as Microsoft Teams. By effectively combining face-to-face and online teaching, more learners are able to benefit from the lesson.

Judges heard the “vastly experienced team with a wide range of technical skills” had been a “driving force for change and excellence”, which ensured “learners are fully-equipped for the challenges that the ever-changing digital industry will deliver.”

The bronze award is a new award category introduced by Pearson last year to recognise the significant achievements of the teachers, schools and colleges entered into the awards. Winners were announced on Thursday 26 May as part of National Thank a Teacher Day.

Programme area leader for computing, Scott Marshall, said: “We’ve tried to innovate as much as we possibly could and worked hard to ensure our curriculum remains current, reflects the needs of industry and meets the skills requirements of the local area. It allows students to decide what they want to do in the future, in terms of their careers and industry specialisms. Students were at the heart of our decision to re-shape the curriculum.

“The difficult times of Covid taught us some amazing lessons about how to creatively use the technology at our disposal, how to get the most out of each other as individuals, and how to share best practice across the department.

“This award recognises we’ve done something special. I’m very proud of the team.”

Tommy was nominated by his colleagues for his “passion and expertise for technology” and his “desire to see it deployed to positively impact the lives of those he interacts with.”

He was credited with using a broad range of digital resources within his teaching to generate high levels of interest, discussion and engagement amongst students – while his innovative use of Microsoft Teams had extended beyond live-streaming of lessons to become a “central hub for learning”, allowing students to collaborate on interactive group activities and capture evidence of their learning, which has enhanced their digital literacy skills.

As a member of the college’s digital teacher innovator group, Tommy has trained colleagues in other departments to use new technologies and introduce pioneering ways of teaching using online platforms.

Judges were told: “There is no doubt that without Tommy’s insight and dedication to proactively bringing about digital change within the organisation through these incredibly challenging times, we would not be seeing the positive outcomes we are today.”

Tommy said: “I’m very happy to receive this award. I’m a fairly new teacher so the fact I’ve been commended for my ability to implement my ideas in the classroom is fantastic. My students love the way I have implemented the use of Microsoft Teams into their learning and it’s always nice when colleagues come to me for advice and support.

“Incorporating Microsoft Teams alongside face-to-face teaching has really paid off. This gives me the incentive to take it forward and try new teaching techniques.”

The computer science team and Tommy were presented with their Pearson National Teaching Awards certificates by principal and chief executive Andrew Cropley at a celebration event attended by students and staff.

Mr Cropley said: “I’m thrilled for the computer science team and for Tommy.  This is a fabulous achievement and recognises the brilliant work they did in moving to online delivery during the pandemic, their highly innovative curriculum design which enables students to personalise their learning and develop highly-valued, employment-focused skills, and their collaborative teaching model.

“The way they have supported their colleagues, the creativity they’ve shown in developing their curriculum, and the innovative way they are teaching their courses makes this extremely well deserved.”

Established in 1998, the awards are an annual celebration of excellence in education, recognising the hard work of teachers across the UK. It boasts 15 awards categories covering the primary, secondary and further education sectors, open to schools and colleges in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

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