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Isle of Sheppey Academy teacher Frank Prior dedicates award to parents

By Lewis Dyson
Teacher of the Year Awards,Frank Prior of the Isle of Sheppey Academy is presented with his overall award by Mandy Holdstock from Hempstead House Hotel and Joanna Worby from Brachers
Teacher of the Year Awards,Frank Prior of the Isle of Sheppey Academy is presented with his overall award by Mandy Holdstock from Hempstead House Hotel and Joanna Worby from Brachers

An educator with a rock star approach has dedicated his success at the Kent Teacher of the Year Awards to Island families.

The Isle of Sheppey Academy’s Frank Prior not only won the award for secondary teacher for the Swale district, but was the overall winner for Kent.

His nomination was written by a student, who described how the teacher totally transformed the attitude of her GCSE class.

She said students’ feelings turned from uninterest and antipathy for English to “a robust appreciation and passion” for the subject.

This was reflected in GCSE English results, up from 40% in 2010 to 60% in 2012. The nominating student got two As, instead of the low grades that she was previously predicted to get.

In addition, the academy’s science team won the team of the year category for Swale and the overall title for the county.

The department produced the best results of any core subject in the academy, and was described as working tirelessly unpaid at lunch times, after school, at weekends and during holidays to improve chances for pupils.

Mr Prior, of Silverdale Avenue, Minster, has taught on the Island for nine years at Minster College and at the academy. He said: “I am very humbled by the award. During the awards, there were incredible things read out about me, especially by students and parents.

“I am very proud. I want to dedicate it to nobody else except the families on the Island who have totally embraced me and my enthusiasm.

“I do a lot of jumping around, I have a great rapport with the kids, and I just put everything into it.

“I think the big thing — the children mentioned it when they nominated me — was the fact that I have high aspirations for children. I always have.”

The 49-year-old, who plays music, helped organise rock shows after school and at weekends at Minster College from 2004 to 2009.

He added: “We have got these new open areas now in the academy where you could be teaching to 120 kids at a time. That suits me.”

Mr Prior was presented with his award at Hempstead House Country House Hotel and Spa in Bapchild.

Principal David Day said: “Mr Prior is a leader of English who leaves no stone unturned in his quest to improve the attainment of students and the quality of teaching.

"He is an inspiring teacher, full of personality and presence, which enthuses students and brings alive literature and the written word.

“The science department have had to cope with some staffing difficulties and changes in my time as principal, and it was to their credit that in 2012 72% of youngsters achieved an A* to C grade in GCSE science, which was indicative of the effort put in by teachers.

“The academy has had its knocks, but it is good to see praise for strong teaching. What goes on in the classroom is what matters.”

  • The awards were organised by the KM Charity Team in partnership with the KM Group, and people were asked to nominate the county’s top teachers. The sponsors are Hempstead House, Canterbury Christ Church University, Brachers, Independent Music Productions, Kent County Council, Medway Council, Three R’s Teacher Recruitment, Southern Educational Leadership Trust, Social Enterprise Kent, Learning Plus, Nova IT Solutions and RVP Video.
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