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A teacher from Sevenoaks is short-listed for Varkey Foundation global education award worth one million US dollars

A teacher from Sevenoaks is in with the chance of winning $1million.

Cat Davison, who teaches at Sevenoaks School, is one of only two finalists from England to make the last stage of the 2021 Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize.

Cat Davison
Cat Davison

Now in its seventh year, the award seeks to find the world's "best teacher" – and the prize money is believed to be the largest such award.

Miss Davison realised the role teachers could play in supporting students’ efforts to drive change.

She started teaching philosophy and ethics as a means to engage youngsters in challenging debates on social justice.

Recognising that classroom practice needed to be community-connected in order to enable students to apply knowledge to the transformation of their worlds, she has committed to a life as a community-centred educator creating a curricula that linked ethics to action, leading to charitable and environmental projects, and social entrepreneurship and advocacy projects.

Her classes have so far generated 120 student-led projects including Students Unite, which raised over £35,000 for Médecins Sans Frontières, and Footprint Facts, which offers a personalised carbon footprint calculator.

'It is only by prioritising education that we can safeguard all our tomorrows'

She created EduSpots, a network of 42 community-led solar-powered libraries, which engaged students in global citizenship education.

More locally, she spent last summer as a volunteer with the Invicta Academy in Maidstone and helped them to create an online pop-up school to help pupils catch up after Covid disruption which won praise from the Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

As a result of her guidance, a number of her students have gone on to win prizes of their own for their entrepreneurial social projects.

Miss Davison said that there was gap in support for innovative teachers, with no clear fellowship programme or network with this aim.

She said that if she wins the Global Teacher Prize, she will spend the money connecting and equipping teachers, students and community members keen to lead innovative educational initiatives that involve communities in addressing local and global challenges.

Sevenoaks School
Sevenoaks School

The other English teacher short-listed for the award is David Swanston, who works in Liverpool. There are 50 teachers on the final shortlist.

The Varkey Foundation was set up by Sunny Varkey, an Indian-born philanthropist billionaire, who owns GEMS Education, and lives in Dubai.

He said: "Congratulations to Cat and the other finalists. 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.”

The 2020 winner was a teacher from India.

Read more: All the latest news from Sevenoaks

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