British teacher in final for million-dollar global prize

A British teacher who works with visually impaired children is in the final of the Global Teacher Prize.

David Swanston, deputy principal at St Vincent’s School in Liverpool, is in contention for winning one million US dollars (£730,000) after making the top 10 for the world’s “best teacher” award.

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

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

Currently, Mr Swanston is working on the development of rugby specifically for the blind by modelling game play and creating ball prototypes using textures and electronics.

The other nine finalists teach in Argentina, Canada, the Philippines, Mexico, Ghana, France, America, Australia and Iran.

A British student has also made the top 10 shortlist for a new sister award, the Chegg.org Global Student Prize 2021, which includes prize money of 100,000 dollars (£730,000).

Elliott Lancaster, a postgraduate student at Keele University in Staffordshire, 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 for organisations to become carbon neutral.

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

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi said: “I know just how much teachers can transform lives and I am thrilled to congratulate David on this recognition for his inspirational work.

“I am incredibly grateful to him for his innovation in supporting children and young people with visual impairments, helping to ensure they can thrive at school, including through sport.

“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.

“When I met him recently I was so impressed by his passion and commitment to issues like sustainability. I will be cheering them both on for the final spot.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Twitter: “Huge congratulations to David Swanston on being shortlisted for the Global Teacher Prize.

“There can be no great schools without great teachers, and Mr Swanston’s dedication to his pupils serves as an inspiration to all.”

Sunny Varkey, founder of the Varkey Foundation, said: “Congratulations to David and Elliott for reaching their final 10.

“Their stories clearly highlight the importance of education in tackling the great challenges ahead – from climate change to growing inequality to global pandemics.

“It is only by prioritising education that we can safeguard all our tomorrows. Education is the key to facing the future with confidence.”