A teacher at St Matthew’s Catholic Primary School in Prudhoe, part of the Bishop Wilkinson Catholic Education Trust, has been awarded a top accolade from the Department for Education.
Dr Michelle Saunders, who teaches Year 6 and is Science/Curriculum Lead, received a Lord Glenamara Memorial Award for Excellence in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). The awards recognise inspiring teachers and other professionals who are helping to ensure that young people in the north east achieve their potential. They also award a pupil in the region who has excelled in academic study.
Dr Saunders, who has been teaching at St Matthew’s Catholic Primary School for five years, was nominated by headteacher, Martin Gray, and she says it was a complete surprise: “It was rather a shock when I found out I’d won this award as I had no idea I’d even been put forward for it! I have worked in science education for over 20 years and have always looked for opportunities to enthuse and engage students with real science, promoting a passion for learning and employment in STEM subjects.”
“As primary science lead, I am part of a fantastic team at St Matthew’s who have fully supported me in my endeavours to develop our science curriculum and the science capital in our school and community. I sincerely thank the Department for Education for granting me this award.”
The celebration of awards took place virtually on Monday 12th July, with Katherine Cowell, Regional Schools Commissioner for the North, opening the event. Baroness Berridge, Minister for the School System, also joined the winners to say a few words of congratulations.
Dr Saunders, who lives in Stocksfield, has worked with Dr Lorraine Coghill at Durham University to develop a Space Camp partnership for local schools and more recently an Ogden Trust partnership, which aims to increase the uptake of physics post-16 by supporting physics education and engagement for all young people (ages 4-18).
Dr Saunders adds: “We hope to use these to promote good practice in teaching Physics, and a love of learning across all STEM subjects, as well as raising the careers’ awareness and aspirations of children in our schools in the north-east.”
Martin Gray, headteacher at St Matthew’s, says: “Michelle is an inspiration and is well deserved of this award. She works tirelessly to engage children in STEM subjects, not just at our school but on a regional level, and I’m delighted that her hard work and dedication has been recognised with this award.”
Nick Hurn OBE, CEO of Bishop Wilkinson Catholic Education Trust, adds: “I was thrilled to hear the news that Michelle has won a Lord Glenamara Memorial Award. She is an exceptional teacher and passionate about inspiring the next generation to love STEM subjects. She is a credit to St Matthew’s and I know everyone there, not least her students, are very proud of her.”