Let Teachers SHINE winner 2021: Julia Smith – 5Rsonline

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Maths teacher trainer Julia Smith has won £22,500 in this year’s Let Teacher’s SHINE competition to fund a project that will help thousands of students in the North East and Yorkshire.

Let Teachers SHINE, run by the education charity SHINE and supported by Tes, awards funding to teachers with innovative ideas to help disadvantaged students succeed in English, maths or science.

Julia said she was “absolutely chuffed” to win the funding for her 5Rsonline project, which will help students resitting maths GCSE in post-16 education.

Julia will be working in partnership with Craven College, North Yorkshire, to deliver to her programme in colleges across the North, beginning this September.

“I was surprised that I’d won, because it’s a very prestigious award, but I think when you believe in something, you stick your neck out,” she said.

Julia’s project will give up to 150 teachers from at least fifteen colleges free online access to a bespoke GCSE maths revision curriculum.

Around 3,000 students will log on to receive a daily dose of maths, curated by Julia and grounded in research.

Julia, from Clacton-on-Sea, Essex, has trialled the programme in the classroom, where it has already inspired many students to success, but having it online will allow her to reach far more students.

And 5Rsonline will particularly help students from disadvantaged backgrounds who have previously struggled with the subject.

Ultimately, Let Teachers SHINE is about making a difference and I know this project can have a big impact. If students can get that qualification, it can open doors that they don't even realise are shut yet.

Julia Smith Let Teachers SHINE winner

“We know that the level of engagement, when we have trialled this in the classroom, was having a dramatic effect on students but the pandemic changed all that,” said Julia. “We have AQA case studies where high-grade outcomes more than doubled. I firmly believe it can work online as well.”

The programme will encourage students to do a small amount of maths each day. “It’s about building regular habits,” explained Julia.

“People often say they don’t like maths. Well, I believe that needn’t be the case. It’s a case of practicing until you cannot get it wrong…not just until you get it right and to practice a little bit every day.

“This programme is motivational, it’s engaging, and it’s up to the student which bits they want to do. It’s 24/7 learning and it allows the students to be the architect of their own learning.

“Ultimately, Let Teachers SHINE is about making a difference and I know this project can have a big impact. If students can get that qualification, it can open doors that they don’t even realise are shut yet.

They will also develop a greater understanding of maths and hopefully enjoy the experience as well.”

Julia hopes her project can inspire a fundamental shift in the way maths is taught.

“I think if it leads to cultural change, it would be amazing. I’d like to see Daily Maths introduced at all levels of education. It’s very exciting. Let’s see what happens.”

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.