October 26, 2021

Liverpool teacher in final for $1m global teaching prize

October 14, 2021

A teacher from Liverpool has been shortlisted for the Global Teacher Prize for his work with visually impaired children.

David Swanston, deputy principal at St Vincent's School in Liverpool, is in contention to win $1m (£730,000) after making the top 10 for the world's "best teacher" award.

The Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize is now in its seventh year and was set up to recognise one exceptional teacher who has made an outstanding contribution to the profession.

Mr Swanston has been helping students with visual impairments for more than 10 years and his approach to teaching is personalised according to their level of vision.

Many of his students have gone on to continue their studies in further education, found employment, take part in the Duke of Edinburgh's Award scheme and compete at the Paralympic Games.

He is currently working on the development of rugby specifically for the blind, by modelling gameplay and creating ball prototypes using textures and electronics.

If he wins, he will use the funds to support physical activity, horticulture and wellbeing programmes at the nearby Alder Hey Children's Hospital.

He would also look to boost the development of inclusive ice hockey and blind hockey across the UK.

The other nine finalists teach in Argentina, Canada, the Philippines, Mexico, Ghana, France, the United States, Australia and Iran. The final shortlist follows 8,000 nominations from 121 countries.

A postgraduate student at Keele University in Staffordshire is also a finalist for a new sister $100,00 (£730,000) award, the Chegg.org Global Student Prize.

Elliott Lancaster has been campaigning for mental health, social enterprise, sustainability and a solution to homelessness alongside his studies.

The 24-year-old has set up a number of groups and lobbied companies to become carbon neutral.

The winners of both prizes will be announced on 10 November during a virtual ceremony.

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi said "teachers can transform lives" and congratulated Mr Swanston on making the final for his "inspirational work".

He added: "I also want to congratulate Elliott, who is making a difference to so many people's lives at a young age, through his community work and initiatives."

Sunny Varkey, founder of the Varkey Foundation, said the achievements of both "highlight the importance of education in tackling the great challenges ahead - from climate change to growing inequality to global pandemics".

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