The former tutor of Russell Brand and Louise Redknapp is among four UK teachers to have been shortlisted for an award described as the ‘Nobel prize for teaching’. Peter Ferris, a drama teacher from Mercy College, Belfast, who previously taught at the Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts in London – where Brand and Redknapp were pupils – has made the top 50 for his work using drama and the performing arts to bring together divided communities in the country.
Mr Ferris – along with three other UK teachers – were shortlisted from 20,000 nominations and applications from 179 countries around the world.
Now in its third year, the US$1 million global teacher prize was set up by the Varkey Foundation to recognise the achievements of one teacher and the contribution they have made to education.
Also on this year’s shortlist is Raymond Chambers, a computer science teacher from Brooke Weston Academy in Northamptonshire, who developed new software for learning using Microsoft Kinect while running a successful YouTube education channel.
Nathan Atkinson, headteacher at Richmond Hill Primary School in Leeds, was recognised for his work towards providing free breakfasts for children, both in his own school and in the wider community, and for his work towards the Fuel for School project, which provides 30 schools in Leeds with a twice-weekly delivery of food.
Finally, Adnan Mahmood, a business and enterprise tutor from Barking and Dagenham College in Essex, who was praised for helping pupils develop skills needed for success in life and business.
The 10 final candidates will be announced in February, while the winner will be announced at the Global Education and Skills Forum in Dubai in March.
Last year, two UK teachers reached the final 10 – Richard Spencer and Tom Bennett – although the final prize was awarded to Hanan Al Hroub from Palestine, while the 2015 award went to US teacher, Nancie Atwell.
Ban Ki-moon, secretary-general of the United Nations, welcomed the latest prize saying: “The award is in line with my Global Education First Initiative, launched in 2012, which aims to give momentum to the worldwide movement to put every child in school, improve the quality of learning and foster global citizenship.”
I count my teachers as among the most influential people in my life. Teachers are entrusted with nurturing the potential of the young and helping them blossom
He added: “I count my teachers as among the most influential people in my life. Teachers are entrusted with nurturing the potential of the young and helping them blossom as productive and responsible members of society. It is hard to underestimate their value.
Sunny Varkey, founder of the Varkey Foundation, said: “We were overwhelmed by the huge support the Global Teacher Prize received this year. We intend to keep this momentum going as our journey continues to return teachers to their rightful position as one of the most respected professions in society.
“The tens of 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.”