A West Nottinghamshire College tutor described as being “truly exceptional in her dedication and care for students” has been commended in this year’s Pearson National Teaching Awards.
Travel and tourism tutor Claire Craig was named as one of just three nationwide bronze winners in the category of Award for FE Lecturer of the Year, sponsored by the Department for Education.
She was nominated by head of department Helen Wilcockson in recognition of her exceptional teaching, caring nature and inspirational leadership.
Helen said: “Claire’s personal teaching is outstanding and her lessons are meticulously planned. She ensures each student is taken into account in terms of their individual starting points and any learning needs. This guarantees maximum progress is made in all lessons.
“Even though we lost one-third of the teaching time last year due to the pandemic, almost all learners achieved their target grade, and many achieved their aspirational grade.
“Whether students have academic, social or emotional issues, Claire will take the time to listen, research how she can help, and then implement support.
“She creates relationships with parents or guardians and works very closely with them and colleagues to ensure each learner achieves their goals. Even parents have been known to ask Claire for personal advice!”
As well as being a teacher, Claire is also the programme area leader for the college’s travel and tourism curriculum.
Her organisational skills means the curriculum area “runs like clockwork” and is “very closely aligned with the occupational standards that are expected in the industry”, said Helen. Over the years, Claire has built up a large network of employers and she hosts a professional conference for students to explore more about what it is like to work in travel and tourism.
“This has aided learners to have a really good insight into the industry and some have moved into roles with these employers as a result,” added Helen. “We have had students progress to Jet2, Virgin, British Airways, the former Thomas Cook, and many of the local attractions, hospitality venues and travel agencies in our area.”
Claire designs a large enrichment programme, which helps students build on their industry and wider knowledge.
Last year, before the first lockdown, Claire accompanied students on an overseas visit to The Gambia, giving them a “life-changing opportunity to experience life in a developing country, working alongside Gambian learners.”
The bronze award is a new level introduced by Pearson to recognise the huge achievements of the teachers, schools and colleges entered into the awards this year. Winners were announced on Wednesday 23 June.
Claire received a certificate, lapel pin and a letter of thanks written by Michael Morpurgo, president of the Teaching Awards Trust, celebrated author and former Children’s Laureate. These were presented to her by college principal and chief executive Andrew Cropley.
Speaking of the award, Claire said: “It is an absolute honour to be recognised in this way. Teachers all over the country have worked extremely hard throughout the pandemic and there are so many people who deserve this award, so it’s nice to know my work is appreciated within the college but also externally.
“But I couldn’t achieve any of this on my own – this is a team effort. It’s also down to the students. Sometimes teenagers get bad press but over the last 16 months they’ve proven how resilient they really are and I don’t believe there’s been enough recognition of that. I wouldn’t be able to do this without my team but I also wouldn’t be able to do it without the students.”
Mr Cropley said: “Claire’s teaching talent goes without saying. What makes her truly outstanding is her effectiveness in getting her students to embrace the highest of standards.
“The ways she responds to every challenge, including the pandemic, to turn it into an opportunity for her students and inspire her colleagues to follow her lead and be the best they can be is simply fantastic. Claire is a true jewel amongst our hugely-committed teaching team and truly deserves this award.”