Let Teachers SHINE winner 2021: Anthony Wilkinson and Brooke Nolan – JigCom

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Two Leeds schoolteachers are celebrating after winning a national competition that backs innovative new ideas in education.

Anthony Wilkinson and Brooke Nolan, from Parklands Primary School have received £25,000 from the Let Teachers SHINE awards, run by the education charity SHINE and supported by Tes (The Times Educational Supplement).

The grant will fund JigCom, an interactive classroom resource aimed at developing pupils’ language and communication by using jigsaws in a new and innovative way.

Research has found that pre-school children from low-income families may know up to 4000 fewer words than their wealthier peers. And the evidence shows that a limited vocabulary can have a profound impact on a child’s education and life chances.

The teachers plan to design and create an extensive range of jigsaws that will focus on enriching pupil’s vocabulary, helping to contextulise it, and supporting pupils to use it through competent sentence structure. The aim is to help more pupils to begin learning to read, write and speak with the necessary knowledge and understanding of language.

Children will be encouraged to develop both receptive and descriptive vocabulary, as well as their speaking, listening and attention skills along with many overlooked, cognitive processes. JigCom will also support their personal, social, emotional, and physical development.

“We are both really excited to have received the grant,” said Anthony. “There’s lots of work to do but we’re already off to a really good start.

This is an idea I’ve had for some time. And I felt like it could work. It's brilliant that SHINE funds things like this because I'm not sure otherwise that I would have ever done anything about it. It would have just been in the back of my head for my whole life.

Anthony Wilkinson Let Teachers SHINE winner

“This is an idea I’ve had for some time. And I felt like it could work. It’s brilliant that SHINE funds things like this because I’m not sure otherwise that I would have ever done anything about it. It would have just been in the back of my head for my whole life.”

“I have previously used the concept of JigCom while working with pupils in reception, so I’m over the moon to have the opportunity to develop an idea that I’ve had for a long time, and to design and produce the resource on a scale that could show its full potential and influence teaching practice throughout early years and beyond.”

Several Leeds schools will be involved in the pilot of the programme, and if it is successful, it is hoped to expand it further, reaching hundreds more children from disadvantaged backgrounds.

“We believe that JigCom could provide schools with a useful and creative resource for bridging the disadvantage gap between pupils,” said Brooke.

Helen Rafferty, Interim Chief Executive of SHINE, said: “Congratulations to all the winners of this year’s Let Teachers SHINE competition. The awards were held during some of the most challenging times teachers have ever faced, making the quality of the applications all the more impressive.

“Each of the teachers who took part in the competition demonstrated their innovation and commitment to really make a difference to the futures of children from low-income families.

“We look forward to working with the winners to help them develop their ideas and help hundreds of children to succeed at school.”

As well as financial support, SHINE provides Let Teachers SHINE winners with free access to a range of development workshops and coaching opportunities to help develop their ideas.

For a full list of this year’s winners, click here.

Since August 2000, SHINE has invested more than £31 million in projects benefiting almost 1.4 million children from over 20,000 schools.