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Recognition for Teachers and Science Support Staff

Published: Jan 6, 2014 5 min read

Becca Knowles

Head of Educational Support

National STEM Centre

As a young teacher a ‘thank you’ from a pupil was a very rare thing but more noticeably there were few chances to have my work recognised by senior staff.

Recognition is something that teachers and other support staff do not find easy to accept but to help staff in the brave new world of accountability and performance related pay progression, it is becoming increasingly important to support colleagues in providing evidence for the professional learning that they are involved with.

Provide Evidence for Professional Learning and Pupil Impact

The new national Science Learning Network’ Teacher and Science Support Staff Recognition Scheme is designed to help with this.  The scheme for all teachers and support staff has been designed to provide evidence for the professional learning undertaken and the impact it has had on their pupils or more widely.  This three tier award shows evidence of strong classroom practice and continuing professional development (CPD) with an increasing impact within the classroom, across the school and more widely at a regional and national level.

This national award is an annual award at three levels;

  • Effective Science Teacher or Technician (EST)
  • Leading Science Teacher or Technician (LST)
  • National Expert Science Teacher or Technician (NEST)

There are clear and logical criteria where a teacher or other member of support staff provide evidence showing the following.

CPD undertaken by the individual is one of those aspects of teaching that is sometimes very visible; schools know when whole school training days are planned and the link these have to the school improvement plan. However teachers and technicians do a whole variety of professional development that is not as easily recognised.  This can include in school professional development associated with school training days.

At the effective science teacher (EST) level, evidence of some subject specific science professional development through the Science learning Centres is expected.  The amount of CPD undertaken by the individual is greater for the other awards.

Link to School’s Performance Management Process

Individuals involved in the recognition scheme clearly have a commitment to improving their practice by planning their own professional learning and their plan could be linked to the performance management process their school has in place.  Many schools now regularly audit staff against standards: either their own produced for support staff or The National Professional Teacher Standards. Either of these could form the basis of the evidence for this aspect of the recognition scheme.  To achieve Leading Science Teacher (LST) there needs to be evidence of sharing CPD with colleagues within the school whereas for the National Expert Science Teacher (NEST) there will need to be evidence to support the work of science teachers at a national or regional level across a group of schools.

It is important that science teachers and technicians show an impact of their CPD upon their own practice and the students within their classroom, school and beyond.  Some of the evidence that will be submitted will allow this to be recognised more widely.  Good and excellent classroom practice shows the impact of professional learning on the individual teacher.  There is also the opportunity to show how this has had impact on students.  This might not only be an improvement in outcomes as far as exams goes but could also be an improvement in attitude and engagement in science or an increase in progression to post 16 courses in science or science based careers.

Annual Assessment

Assessment and awards take place on an annual basis with an increasing input from the national network of Science Learning Centres, dependent on the level of the award.  There is a simple application form which provides a framework for the evidence required at each level and the opportunity to include other evidence that has arisen for the work that you have done.  When considering entry for NEST you should be prepared to be interviewed to confirm details and discuss the work you have done in more detail.

The most recent OFSTED guidance for science education is called ‘Maintaining Curiosity’  we all have a responsibility to maintain the curiosity of young people in science education but I would also argue that we equally have the responsibility to maintain the curiosity of teachers and support staff in continual improvement.  I hope that this award scheme can go some way in recognising the commitment and professionalism of colleagues who strive for excellence in their work.

Phil Wilson was awarded National Expert status in 2013. Here he is to tell you about the benefits of entering the awards for individuals, schools and their students, as well as some top tips to use when entering!

Thinking of entering? We are running a free Google Hangout on Monday 2 March to show teachers and technicians how they can be recognised for their efforts.