2024 Clark Prize Awarded at ERA Annual Dinner and Lecture

The ERA Foundation is delighted to announce the 2024 David Clark Prize winners. The prize recognises exceptional teachers who have exceeded expectations and gone beyond the curriculum to inspire students and showcase real-world engineering in the classroom.

Alongside Paul and Anthony, the ERA Foundation recognised Becki Price from The Willows Primary School and Kate Finlay from Hethersett Academy with Highly Commended status for outstanding contributions to engineering education.

Paul Tyler

Paul Tyler, the STEM and Innovation Lead at Kirkhill Primary School, has been reimagining specific aspects of the school’s curriculum to focus more on Engineering, Technology, Innovation, and Sustainability. He has set up and resourced a new STEM Innovation hub for the curriculum redesign.

With 14 years of experience leading STEM, Paul has developed meaningful collaborations with relevant organisations. He has run successful science and engineering clubs, was twice awarded STEM Club of the Year in Scotland, and created fully immersive engineering projects for pupils.

Over the past year, Paul has developed an open-ended “Low Resource Engineering Challenges” collection to introduce engineering concepts and encourage collaboration. Through pupil-led design-and-build projects, pupils have learned about various materials and had opportunities to work with different grades of cardboard, wood, plastic, and metal. Paul has also established a school-wide program of engineer visits throughout the year, building close relationships with local and national engineering companies that continue to support engineering development at the school.

“All of us at Kirkhill are absolutely delighted for Paul winning the David Clarke Prize,” said Liz Matthews, head teacher at Kirkhill Primary School. “His STEM work has been inspirational for a significant number of children over many years, and his impact on pupils and staff at Kirkhill has been huge since he joined the school. The curriculum he has developed this year, with engineering and sustainability at the centre, has given the children experiences they would have never got without him, his dedication and enthusiasm. The generous prize money for the school will allow Paul to continue to develop our engineering curriculum over the next three years. He already has plans to create fully immersive opportunities for our children and ensure we have the resources we need to inspire the children further.”

Kirkhill Primary School has been developing engineering within STEM as a critical part of its curriculum over the past year, with sustainable engineering as the primary focus. The school plans to continue developing this part of the curriculum over the next three years in the following ways:

The school plans to continue developing this part of the curriculum over the next three years by further developing the STEM Innovation Hub. This includes adding custom-made woodworking benches with stations for up to six children at a time, appropriate shelving to store materials and children’s projects, and purchasing a range of woodworking tools to increase children’s opportunities for practical work. The school also aims to buy materials for engineering projects, specifically suitable wood and other hardware needed to develop meaningful experiences, and building resources for each stage, such as Kapla, K’Nex, blocks and poles, and magnetic shapes, to improve children’s engineering skills and thinking.

In addition, the school plans to develop full-day, immersive engineering experiences for Primary 4, 5, 6, and 7 and expand the extracurricular engineering programme to include more options for children at different stages, buying the necessary resources to support these activities. Kirkhill Primary School also intends to share its experiences with other schools across the local authority and interested schools throughout Scotland.

Anthony Vaughan-Evans

Anthony Vaughan-Evans, a Maths teacher and Director of STEM at East Point Academy, is committed to delivering an excellent and exciting STEM agenda to the young people of Lowestoft and Waveney, two of England’s most deprived areas. Anthony’s commitment to engaging external support ensures that young people are given stimulating, enlightening, and contextual STEM experiences. He has only just begun creating a “Centre of Excellence for STEM” in the area and firmly believes there is potential to lead STEM education in Suffolk and further afield.

As a STEM teacher coordinator for the Royal Academy of Engineering, Anthony has established a network of over 40 high and primary school teachers in Norfolk and Suffolk, offering support, resources, and consultation to other schools so they can adopt this STEM engagement. He has also developed a STEM model called “STEM in Action,” which involves working with STEM ambassadors to bring real-life curriculum topics into the classroom. This model has successfully engaged students and provided them with hands-on learning experiences.

“We are extremely proud of Anthony, as our Director of STEM he does a huge amount of work with our students and the community to raise the profile of engineering,” said Lucy Austin, principal of East Point Academy. “Lowestoft, home to East Point Academy, has a growing engineering industry for which our students are the future employees. It’s fantastic that Anthony’s important work in this field is being recognised by such a prestigious award.”

East Point Academy explained that the prize money will have an enormous positive impact on increasing the STEM opportunities for young people in the local area across many schools and developing a Centre of Excellence for STEM.

The school is excited to expand the “STEM in Action” model to incorporate more schools and engage more external support. This model is built on partnerships with local companies and working with STEM ambassadors to bring “real-life” curriculum topics into the classroom. The key to motivation and broadening pupils’ horizons is visiting the industrial setting, which can immeasurably change young people’s perspectives on their potential career paths. With this funding, the costs of transport, which has been a major obstacle in the past, can be addressed, enabling more pupils to visit locations further afield in this remote and rural setting. The school can also develop more interschool STEM events and competitions.

These projects can be significant in disadvantaged areas where STEM career opportunities are sometimes not noticed by young people and parents. With this in mind, alongside the great opportunities for STEM-related careers in the energy sector locally, East Point Academy would like to develop a project to engage parents and highlight STEM opportunities, focusing on female role models, presentation skills, and communication skills. Funding will enable the provision of refreshments and activities for these events.

Finally, the school would like to provide training and resources for other STEM teachers in the area to enable greater uptake of these local STEM opportunities in the energy sector and the many different STEM activities available. This work involves encouraging and supporting teachers in areas needing more experience, confidence, and connections. The prize money can be used to develop tailored resources to be delivered at training sessions and to create a local STEM opportunity directory.

Highly Commended

Highly Commended Becki Price, the Science Subject Leader at The Willows Primary School, and Kate Finlay, the Head of Design and Technology at Hethersett Academy, for their exceptional contributions to engineering education.

Above: Highly Commended Becki Price

Becki is committed to building positive perceptions of STEM futures for every child, regardless of gender, socio-economic background, or geographical location. She has created new enrichment approaches in her school and extends her enthusiasm and passion to inspire other schools beyond her own, influencing children and families across Stoke-on-Trent.

Kate Finlay has transformed the Design & Technology department at Hethersett Academy, growing it from just 15 pupils taking D&T GCSE to over 100. She has designed an innovative, creative, and inspiring curriculum that provides abundant opportunities for all students to follow their passions. Kate ensures that pupils use industry-standard CAD programs, machinery, and equipment and organises visits to local post-16 workplaces so that pupils can see their next steps in the sector.

Above: Highly Commended Kate Finlay

“Kate Finlay has transformed the technology department at Hethersett Academy beyond all recognition,” said Jane Diver, executive principal of Hethersett Academy. “Kate has worked tirelessly to design a curriculum that has enabled all children to engage in a curriculum that is innovative, creative and inspiring with an abundance of opportunities for all to follow their passions. Our Hethersett children are very lucky to have Kate and her team ensuring they all learn to plan, problem solve and adapt to an ever-changing world; developing confidence and resilience along the way, essential skills to help navigate life in general and its challenges.”

Diver added, “As well as being a master of curriculum design, Kate also expertly manages resources. This has enabled our Hethersett children to have access to the very best equipment and teaching to excel. Kate is passionate about inclusion ensuring all children, including the most vulnerable have what they need to be successful and shine in Technology. For this all, the Hethersett Academy community are very grateful – thank you Kate for all you do to transform the lives of the children of Hethersett.”

Kate’s dedication to providing students with industry-relevant experience and exposure has significantly contributed to the growth and success of the Design & Technology department at Hethersett Academy. Her commitment to inclusivity ensures that all students, regardless of their background, have the opportunity to develop essential skills and excel in Technology.

The awards were presented at the ERA Foundation Annual Dinner and Lecture on June 13th, 2024.

The ERA Foundation would like to express our gratitude to all those who submitted applications. Seeing the dedication and hard work put into each application is inspiring. We encourage each candidate to continue supporting Engineering and consider reapplying.

“The ERA Foundation are delighted to recognise and support such hard working, inspirational and dedicated teachers through the David Clark Prize,” said Professor Sir Christopher Snowden, chairman of the ERA Foundation. “The teachers receiving these awards have demonstrated that they have gone over and above what’s expected of them to promote engineering and encourage young people to consider the discipline as a career path. We look forward to seeing how the prize funding helps to support their excellent work going forward. Congratulations to Paul Tyler, Anthony Vaughan-Evans, Becki Price and Kate Finlay.”