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A Leicester teacher has been recognised as one of the best in the UK, after being shortlisted for a national award dubbed the ‘Oscars’ of the education sector.

Sam Bagley, Deputy Head of the Science Faculty at New College Leicester (NCL), has been selected as a finalist in the prestigious Pearson National Teaching Awards 2022.

Picture: New College, Leicester

Nominated by her NCL colleagues, she has been recognised for her outstanding relationship with the students, extensive curriculum development projects and her whole child, inclusive education philosophy.

Sam joined New College back in 2015 as a Newly Qualified Teacher (NQT), where her “outstanding potential” was immediately recognised by the school’s leadership team.

Throughout her seven years at the school to date, she has taken on several roles. In her second year she was involved in mentoring new staff and trainee teachers. In 2017 she was appointed KS4 coordinator and in 2018 became Deputy Head of Faculty. The role of acting Head of Faculty quickly followed to cover a maternity leave.

As acting Head of Faculty, Sam galvanised her colleagues to commence a complete curriculum rebuild. She is also working at a whole school strategic level to embed careers teaching across the whole curriculum.

Director of Learning for Maths and Science at NCL, Chris Conlon, commented on Sam’s contribution to the new curriculum, praising her positive outcomes, which have come as a result.

“Under Sam’s leadership the staff have built a curriculum that all students can access and that demonstrates the faculty’s philosophy and knowledge about how students learn best and how the curriculum can play a significant role in delivering a rounded education”, he said.

“The new curriculum has transformed teaching and learning in science. Outcomes have improved in terms of students’ attitudes, their depth of learning and capacity to learn, remember and engage with their studies. We’re seeing a greater enthusiasm for Science with more students taking the subject at A level, plus GCSE grades in Science have already improved.”

Having seen the positive outcomes resulting from the science curriculum rebuild and noting the impactful way that careers education runs through it, Sam was invited to share the strategy across all departments. 

Jane Brown, College Principal, feels this work really makes Sam stand out, adding: “Sam’s management of the curriculum redesign was a masterclass in valuing people and raising their self-esteem. Her style ensured everyone was involved in the process, particularly in the rigorous scrutiny of the sequencing of the curriculum. The team is empowered and feels a genuine ownership of it and its underlying rationale. All staff can talk with confidence about the curriculum because they took part in the building of it and are rightly proud of the outcome.”

This style of curriculum review now sets the benchmark of good practice across the school.

On the award recognition, Sam said: “It’s a real honour to be recognised in this way, but it is a team effort to achieve what we have done in the redevelopment of our science curriculum. I’m proud of what we have achieved together.”

“On a student level, the biggest achievement for me is that we can say that our curriculum is truly inclusive, whether that’s a student working at a grade one pushing for a grade two, or a grade 8 to grade 9. We are confident that our curriculum will have a positive impact on every student we see and provide real contextualised learning. It doesn’t limit people and enables students to feel successful at all levels.” 

The Teaching Awards Trust was established in 1998 by David, Lord Puttnam CBE, as a means of recognising and celebrating the UK’s educators. The charity’s mission is to raise the profile of the teaching profession, highlight the positive impact teachers and school leaders have in our society – with pupils, parents and the wider community, and show teachers how much they are valued. It does this through the annual Pearson National Teaching Awards and the Thank a Teacher Campaign.

For more information about the awards visit: