To Sir With Love: The Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize and an ode to outstanding teachers


I think it is fair to say that most of us will remember one teacher who made a difference; one individual who took the time to foster hope and unleash intelligence and greatness in their pupils. Who veered from the conventional methods of reciting the same tired notes and actually injected fun, engagement and learning in their classrooms. This teacher’s name is remembered long after every other memory of school days has washed away and all that is left is the oak tree of confidence that has grown from the acorn seed of words the teacher planted.

It is for this reason that films such as Morgan Freeman’s Lean On Me, Robin Williams’ Dead Poets’ Society, and even Whoopi Goldberg’s Sister Act 2 remain perennial favourites – is there anything more important than turning a child’s life around?

When someone affects a young mind in that way, it is only fair that they should be recognised and rewarded. So it fills me with greatness that something like the Global Teacher Prize exists.

The Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize is an annual award to an exceptional teacher who has made an outstanding contribution to the profession. It celebrates the best in teachers — those who inspire their students and their community around them.

This year, the UK runner-up is a name worth knowing. According to YahooColin Hegarty, of Preston Manor School in Wembley, northwest London, made the final shortlist for the Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize, which recognises outstanding contributions to the profession.

Mr Hegarty, 34, became a teacher six years ago after quitting his job as an accountant for Deloitte.

The maths specialist has created more than a thousand videos explaining his subject to pupils, which have been viewed around six million times.

He started putting his lessons online four years ago after one of his A-level pupils had to take time off to see his sick father and was worried about falling behind.

The student kept up with his studies and passed his A-level.

If that isn’t dedication, I do not know what is. Mr Hegarty has said that if he should win the prize, he will dedicate the money towards improving the website and adding more videos.

Thank you, sir. You are the sort of hero we need. The light in an ever-darkening world. The planter of hope, of skill, of brilliance.

We applaud you.

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