Three teachers who inspired their students to apply to Cambridge have won Trinity’s 2019 Inspirational Teachers’ Award.
First year undergraduates at Trinity are invited to nominate a teacher or careers adviser who particularly inspired their passion for a subject, encouraged them to apply to Cambridge, or supported them through the application process.
This year the winning teachers are: Kate Bell, from Longsands Academy, Evelyn Corney from Cranbrook Grammar, and Paul Haywood from Henrietta Barnet School. Each school receives £500 and the student who nominates their teacher receives £75 in book tokens. Teachers and students are invited to dinner at Trinity.
Melissa Quail said that her Maths teacher, Kate Bell, from Longsands Academy in St Neots, was pivotal, both in deepening her love of maths and inspiring her to apply to Cambridge. ‘She is so enthusiastic about maths, it was impossible for me not to grow to love it too,’ said Melissa.
Kate set up a fortnightly maths group with students from other schools and worked with Melissa weekly on STEP and Maths Olympiad problems.
‘These two after-school activities were invaluable in improving my maths ability and developing my passion for the subject because there were no other students at my school working on the same types of maths problems as me so otherwise I would have had no-one to discuss maths with,’ said Melissa.
Most importantly, every time that I lost belief in myself, Miss Bell was there to support me and persuade me that I was good enough. I will be forever grateful to her for this.
Trinity’s Schools Liaison Officer, Ellie Wood, said the College was committed to increasing engagement with teachers because of the crucial role they play in encouraging and supporting their pupils to apply to leading universities like Cambridge.
In addition to the Inspirational Teachers Award, Trinity’s Year 11 Stonehouse Residential will this year involve teachers, including sessions designed especially for teachers alongside those attended by the Year 11 students selected.
‘A recent Sutton Trust report showed that over 40% of state school teachers would never or rarely advise their brightest students to apply to Oxford or Cambridge, often because of the misconceptions that still remain,’ said Ellie.
‘So the challenge is certainly there in terms of engaging with teachers. In particular, with budget and other constraints that many schools experience at present, we want to help teaching staff to encourage their students through engagement with the College and University, and the guidance we provide with regard to applications,’ she said.
Isabella Lynn experienced the effects of those constraints at her grammar school in Kent. But not in her history class, taught by Evelyn Corney, who was also head of Year 13. Isabella said:
Mrs Corney was incredibly inspiring and was constantly encouraging me to expand my studies around what we were doing in school, even allowing me to borrow books and use her JSTOR account which turned out to be crucial for writing the essay I did which was Highly Commended in Trinity’s Robson Prize (this led me to apply to Trinity).
‘Not only did she help and inspire me greatly, but she also helped everybody else in my year so much with their university applications. I think she must have read 150 personal statements at least two or three times. I do not think I would be here today if it wasn’t for her!’
Lidija Beric was taught languages by Paul Haywood for seven years at Henrietta Barnet School in London. She was inspired by his innovative teaching of French and German A-Level and the host of extra-curricular activities he organised, from foreign language films and theatre trips, to French exchanges and a trip to Paris.
Lidija said: ‘He did his best to show us that there is much more to language learning than exams by taking our understanding of French culture well beyond the prescribed content of the syllabus. His passion transcended the classroom as he spent a lot of time running extra-curricular clubs to help promote our engagement with French culture. My love of languages developed as a result of these clubs and his classes.’
Lidija said that Paul’s faith in her abilities inspired her to apply to Trinity. ‘Knowing that he believed in my ability to succeed resolved me to apply to the College of my choice as he made me want to be ambitious and recognized my potential when I couldn’t see it.’
He has instilled a passion in me that will last my whole life. I am having a fantastic time studying here and it is all thanks to his complete support and encouragement in my application to Trinity.