Nicola Connor is Class Teacher at the Peel Primary School, Livingston, West Lothian and the winner of the 2018 ENTHUSE Award for Excellence in STEM teaching – Primary. We chatted to her about her experience of winning the award and the difference it has made to her, the school and the pupils.
What difference has winning made to the school, teachers and pupils?
Winning the ENTHUSE Celebration Award in the category of primary schools has made a great difference to our school. The profile of the STEM work the school, teachers and pupils carry out has risen since winning the award. The school’s community is aware of what pupils have been learning and taking part in, and are very supportive. We have taken part in further learning opportunities with new partners due to our increased profile and it has been great to see the motivation and enthusiasm from pupils across the school.
What are the key benefits?
For me, as a teacher, the benefit was meeting like-minded teachers and professionals who are as passionate about promoting STEM as I am. It was nice to make new contacts and share ideas and projects. It was interesting to see the difference in the Scottish Curriculum to across the UK and links being made.
Why should people apply?
I wasn’t going to apply but I received several emails from Scottish Schools Education Research Centre (SSERC) about the awards and sent one on to my school management. It was thanks to their support and encouragement that we submitted. I didn’t expect to win the regional award, let alone the UK award. All the other teachers who were put forward deserved to win in my eyes.
I always try to put the children first in my work. To be able to give every child, either in my class or across the school, learning opportunities linked to a STEM subject, and seeing the motivation and enthusiasm it brings is fantastic. I just try to do the best I can for the children, but applying for the award and seeing all the fantastic work being carried out by others has opened my eyes to new opportunities and contacts that extend the school’s work further. People should apply just for that opportunity alone.
What has been the impact of winning the award?
Winning the UK award was a shock! It has opened doors and opportunities for me personally. I am Primary Science Development Officer for West Lothian and working on the SSERC’s Primary Science Teaching Trust Sustain and Extend Programme. I am working with the Developing the Young Workforce team in West Lothian to develop STEM opportunities such as STEAM kits and have an input in learning. This wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t won the award and I will be forever grateful for this.
For my MEd dissertation this year, I have decided to focus on my love of Early Years and Science to carry out a research project to find out to what extent you can teach science through a play-based pedagogy. This pedagogy is part of our national agenda in Scotland in Early Years.
I would also like to say how very appreciative I am of the support and encouragement from my school Head Teacher and management team. Without that support, I wouldn't have been able to apply for the award, attend both ceremonies or apply for new opportunities which opened so many new doors for me.
You can follow Nicola on Twitter @NickyConnor.
Could you be an ENTHUSE Celebration Award winner?
You can nominate yourself, or someone you know, for an ENTHUSE Celebration Award until 1 April 2019.