Teachers, we’d love to hear about your ideas!

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All teachers to some extent want to change the world – I certainly did! and thought I would walk in and everything would happen perfectly – it didn’t of course, and this took a lot grappling with. Keeping the plates spinning takes a lot of time and energy. I struggled with finding time to look up and think about making longer-term changes.

I did want to do things differently and be like the teachers whose lessons I’d enjoyed the most when I was at school in a rural comprehensive. As a student, the lessons, I enjoyed the most were those where I got to do things a bit differently, or develop new skills. As a teacher I got the most satisfaction from delivering lessons that challenged the students by getting them to try something new or work outside of their comfort zone.

I was trained as a languages teacher which was great for encouraging creativity; it gave me the freedom to experiment and do things differently.

Doing things differently is a central to the Let Teachers SHINE programme. So, what are you doing differently that inspires the young people who you’re working with? Have you got an idea that keeps coming back to you to try but you’ve not found the time to explore it further? Let Teachers SHINE is about supporting you and your school with resources to create a space where you can explore your ideas that have the potential to make a difference.

We know that teachers have lots of great ideas that they want to explore and making time to do this has never been more challenging. A Let Teachers SHINE grant is structured. It’s not just a pot of money but a programme of workshop support to enable you to carve out time to really think about how your idea can make a difference and whether it’s something that can be shared with other teachers and have an even bigger impact. But there’s no pressure. Because we’re looking to develop early innovative ideas not everything grows into something bigger, at least not straight away.

In the most recent Let Teachers SHINE competition we worked with 18 winners to develop their ideas. These teachers came to SHINE having identified problems within their settings and subjects that were having impact on the attainment of their pupils. They had thought about ways in which they could do something differently to try to solve them. Nick Harris’s Discovering Antibodies, a cross phase project, showed children there are microbes everywhere – what are they? Where are they? Can we understand them better? Lucy Flannagan and Sara Deakin’s SIIMPLE Science developed accessible and practical ways to deliver primary science and Elisabeth Protopapa’s Be the Examiner worked with college students to develop their metacognition and to coach them how to use this in exam situations.

Some Let Teachers SHINE level one projects do grow into much bigger projects which SHINE continues to support. Roy Clutterbuck’s maths fluency game Lampogo 3, Evie Keough’s project Borromi – a sharing library of home learning resources – and Michelle Lockwood’s Spelling Beats – supporting pupils with spelling. The latter is being shared with more than 100 schools in the North. There’s no limit on how big your project might become or what a difference it could make as we can see with the successes of past winners Times Tables Rock Starts and Hegarty Maths.

Education is in constant flux – some things improve and some things don’t. With Let Teachers SHINE we are purposefully trying to find and develop innovative ideas from teachers – you know better than anyone what that could make things better, especially for children from disadvantaged backgrounds. We do know that the attainment gap still exists, and according to recent research by the Education Policy Institute, it is widening.

Let Teachers SHINE is about finding innovation that has the potential to make a difference, so it is open to practising teachers across England. As a charity, SHINE Trust is about closing the attainment gap which exists at its widest for disadvantaged children living in the North of England. We want to be transparent about this so you can see where our priorities lie as a charity and see why we’re looking for projects which – if successful – are open to working with us in the North.

SHINE is passionate about working with great teachers like you to develop your ideas. We know that it’s tougher than ever to be teaching in the current climate, where there’s so much uncertainty, but challenges also bring opportunities. I believe that we do all have great ideas that make a difference, we often just need a little support to make them happen. Think of the potential if we made the time to explore these ideas – build them, grow them and thread them together with other great ideas. The results could be truly transformative!

I and the whole team at SHINE really can’t wait to receive your applications and support you to develop your ideas. Good luck!

Eleanor Heathcote
Let Teachers SHINE Programme Manager