Selected from thousands of nominations, Paul Mercer, a South Eastern Regional College (SERC) lecturer from Millisle, has been honoured as one of the UK’s Pearson National Teaching Silver Award winners. Paul was recognised in the category for FE Lecturer of the Year for his outstanding commitment to changing the lives of the young people he works with every day. He is now in the running for one of the Gold Awards, to be announced later this year.
Speaking about the Silver Award for his Deputy Head of School, SERC Principal and Chief Executive, Ken Webb said, “Paul ensures that the absolute best education is provided to all learners. His industry background, education expertise and passion have led to an innovative and engaging curriculum at the College which strives to make hospitality and catering interesting, meaningful, relevant and current. This is evident in his many initiatives including the College Kitchen Charity Partnerships which bring basic cookery skills to vulnerable adults and children through student-led cookery tutorials; opportunities for students to raise their technical skills level through participation in regional and international competitions; and the development of student companies and enterprises which have secured coveted food franchise spots at festivals including Sea Bangor, Portavogie Seafood festivals and a Snow Patrol concert, supporting project based learning.”
He added, “Recognising the need for our students to evidence their qualifications and progress, and a need to support people in the local community during the past year, he established partnerships with local charities and councils, resulting in SERC’s Hospitality and Catering School donating 1000 Christmas dinners to the Bangor, Downpatrick, and Newtownards Food Banks and local charities.”
Paul Mercer has now been shortlisted to win one of just 15 Gold Awards later in the year, in a programme which will be broadcast on the BBC. This is a great opportunity to celebrate the exceptional school staff who have worked wonders during an incredibly challenging time for educators across the country.
The Silver Award winners are being honoured as part of the wider celebrations for ‘Thank a Teacher Day’, a national campaign to honour and recognise school and college staff for their incredible work. The celebrations follow new data which shows how the previous year’s lockdowns have significantly changed how families across the country view the role of teachers.
New research from Parentkind and The Teaching Awards Trust found that three in four parents and carers agreed that they have a newfound respect for the teaching profession following their experiences of remote learning during lockdown.
The last year has seen a wealth of stories of teachers making care visits to vulnerable families, coming up with innovative ways of remote teaching, keeping their pupils settled by regularly checking in and even using their school sites for Covid-19 testing when classes did return to school. There has never been a better time to appreciate them and the vital work they do.
The Pearson National Teaching Awards is an annual celebration of excellence in education, founded in 1998 by Lord Puttnam to recognise the life-changing impact an inspirational teacher can have on the lives of the young people they work with. This year marks its 22nd year of celebrating, award-winning teachers, teaching assistants, headteachers and lecturers across the UK.
Sir Michael Morpurgo, celebrated author and former Children’s Laureate, and President of the Teaching Awards Trust, said:
“Thank a Teacher Day gives us all a chance – children, families, all of us – to pay tribute to those wonderful educators who change more lives than they will ever know. Today we say thank you to the teachers who have helped our young people navigate these most difficult of times, and who will continue to inspire countless young minds over the coming years.”
Sharon Hague, Senior Vice President of Schools at Pearson UK, said:
“After a year like no other we want to take today to say thank you to all the incredible school staff who have kept children and young people learning despite unprecedented challenges. We hope the celebrations today show how much you are appreciated, and that your hard work has not gone unnoticed nor unrecognised.”