Edge Hill alumna Caroline Keep has won the New Teacher of the Year award at the prestigious 2018 Tes Schools Awards.

The awards, celebrating their tenth year, recognise outstanding contributions made by education teams and individuals to help students around the country to succeed, both inside and outside the classroom.

Caroline retrained at Edge Hill to become a secondary physics teacher, having previously worked as a geotechnical engineer. During her PGCE year, she helped to organise a festival to promote science, technology, engineering, art, maths (STEAM) and maker-education for young people. Called Liverpool MakeFest, it is now in its fourth year. In her PGCE year Caroline also published her first education paper – “The Tardis Effect: mobile phones and Stem teaching”.

Caroline said: I was late doing my undergraduate degree having worked as an air hostess until my late 20s, and afterwards worked in geotechnical engineering for four years. I wanted to contribute to society and found myself taking on placement students.It was then I got the teaching bug, I love geotechnical but teaching just gave me a real purpose. I started to help redesign some of the University modules at LJMU on the foundation program as a favour, using hands-on technology, leading me into research in science education.

“The research pointed to distinct difficulties in engaging young people in science at secondary, and I felt you just couldn’t improve the uptake in science without walking in teacher’s shoes. So I committed to retrain and saw that Edge Hill had the very best reputation for producing outstanding teachers, even among schools and teachers themselves. My experience on my PGCE was brilliant. The education team and science teachers really give you the best guidance, advice and start to a teaching career.”

“I founded Liverpool Makefest in the year of my graduation from Edge Hill to promote STEAM to children in the Liverpool area with Liverpool Central Library. We just finished our 4th year, with over 6,000 in attendance every year. Edge Hill has been pivotal in its success and Edge Hill lecturers Carl Simmons and Dawn Hewitson still lead the game/computing section at Makefest, continuing to support me as an alumna. Makefest has now been expanded across the National Libraries, so we will hopefully have one in every city soon.”

Two years ago, Caroline joined Future Tech Studio School in Warrington as a NQT. She quickly engaged her pupils by promoting hands-on learning via Arduino and Raspberry Pi technology, which led to her class winning the regional Big Bang contest and heading to the national finals in Birmingham with a nuclear waste robotics project. Her school won an Educate to Innovate award that year as a result of this achievement. Caroline also won the Amaze Award for digital excellence with a Raspberry Pi weather station project. She achieved her first 100 per cent pass rate for physics that year and, in addition, published a second academic paper.

Unfortunately, Caroline’s school was closed in the summer of 2017. However, she was quickly snapped up by Penketh High School, where she reorganised the physics curriculum, before opening the first state school ‘makerspace’ in the UK.

The judges commented: “Caroline stood out as she is such an inspirational role model – both for other new teachers and for pupils. As such an enthusiastic and knowledgeable champion for STEAM learning, her impact in a relatively short time has been phenomenal both in its reach and in its excellence. Her drive, determination and passion for teaching shines out of all she does.”

Tes editor Ann Mroz said: “This was a record year for entries and the standard was exceptionally high. The shortlists were particularly strong so all those who have won an award should be very proud – it’s an extraordinary achievement. We salute each and every one of them.”