Brooke Weston Academy’s computer science teacher Ray Chambers is one of only ten teachers from across the world to be named as a finalist in a global teaching competition, and the only one from the UK.
More than 20,000 nominations from 179 countries were received for the Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize. The award, now in its third year, is the largest of its kind and the winner will receive a prize of US $1m.
The Global Teacher Prize was set up to recognise one exceptional teacher who has made an outstanding contribution to the profession and highlight the important role teachers play in society. By unearthing thousands of stories of heroes that have transformed young people’s lives, the prize hopes to bring to life the exceptional work of millions of teachers.
In a video message, Prince Harry paid tribute to the work of teachers around the world. He said ‘In addition to reading, writing and arithmetic, the very best teachers go beyond the pages of textbooks to teach young people about determination, aspiration, resilience and compassion. We will all face setbacks and challenges in our lives and our teachers play a vital role in preparing us for these ups and downs.
‘The finalists for this year's Global Teacher Prize are from every corner of the world, from the Canadian Arctic to Kenya and Pakistan. But there's one thing they all have in common, they spark curiosity within a child and nurture the dreams that can change our world for the better.
‘I would like to end by congratulating all of the finalists; you are not just exceptional teachers, you are the role models who support, inspire and shape children’s lives. Your work is so important; I don’t believe it is an exaggeration to say that you are shaping the future’.
Mr Chambers, who was nominated by an employee from Microsoft, entered teaching nine years ago by accident as the result of a last-minute computer science degree placement, and found that he loved it.
At that time, ICT teaching was fairly traditional, so Ray started developing new software for learning using Microsoft Kinect. This developed into a blog, then a project with other teachers, and he was invited to Portugal to present it on a global scale.
His computer science YouTube education channel has had over 250,000 views. In 2013/14 won the Microsoft Innovative Expert Educator award.
In 2015 he received the UK national teaching award for innovative use of technology, and in the same year he won the YGC (Young Games Designer) mentor BAFTA. He has also recently featured on the BBC programme Click, along with students from Brooke Weston.
Ray said: ‘I’m completely shocked and over the moon to have made it through to the top ten and the whole thing is very surreal. I’m very blessed to work at Brooke Weston and the support of the staff and students has been amazing. What the Varkey Foundation is doing to boost the profile of teaching is fantastic. It’s a great profession to get into and no day is ever the same.’
Sunny Varkey, founder of the Varkey Foundation, said ‘I want to congratulate Ray for being selected as a top ten finalist from such a huge number of talented and dedicated teachers. I hope his story will inspire those looking to enter the teaching profession and also shine a powerful spotlight on the incredible work teachers do all over the UK and throughout the world every day.
‘The thousands of nominations and applications we received from every corner of the planet is testimony to the achievements of teachers and the enormous impact they have on all of our lives’.
Representatives from 37 countries were shortlisted and by highlighting their stories the Varkey Foundation hopes that the public will be able to join in passionate debates about the importance of teachers.
The winner will be selected from the ten finalists by a Global Teacher Prize Academy. All of the finalists have been invited a ceremony at the Global Education and Skills Forum in Dubai when the winner will be announced on Sunday 19th March.