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All teachers are heroes

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Martin Matthews 22 February, 2018

All teachers are heroes for what they achieve day in day out. In fact everyone that works in schools is a hero. Teachers teach with the support from all the other staff and governors. That is what drives me to encourage more staff to nominate great people they know for “thanks” of one sort or another.


Thanks comes in many forms and we all appreciate it. What I suggest is we take a look around our school and think who could be thanked officially. Many people still think of some Dickensian civil servant wielding a quill pen sat in a dark dusty office trawling through lists of the “worthy”. Nothing could be further from the reality. The simple truth is if people like you and me don’t nominate others they are unlikely to be officially thanked. Everyone thanked is nominated by someone and that could be you.

As a National Leader of Governance I go into many schools and see fantastic staff quietly getting on with things week in and week out. I know that those working in education have a physically and emotionally demanding job and that they give so much of themselves because they care. Mostly people are content to be rewarded by the positive changes they see in the children. I think they should be considered for other recognition as well. Knowing colleagues have taken the time to nominate them does the whole team good.


How can staff be recognised?

Start local and thank people for what they do; goodwill goes a long way and a genuine “thank you” can make all the difference when you’ve had a tough day.

If your LA or MAT runs an annual award ceremony ensure you nominate at least one person from each phase/department. Don’t be modest; most educators, admin, support and site staff would love to win and know that people value what they contribute to school.

The Pearson National Teaching awards are already open for 2018. We all know people who could be there at the glitzy ceremony in London – the difference is someone nominated the nominees. Take the time to look at your school and be a bit braver and put someone forward. Everyone nominated gets a thank you letter even if they aren’t shortlisted.

There is also a way to thank a retiring teacher. You can request a letter from the Department for Education to thank them for their service. It asks for nominations for exceptional teachers but in my opinion any teacher who reaches retirement must be exceptional. This letter isn’t sent automatically, make sure you fill in the form.

By this point each January I’ve normally settled back into my annual routine of being a curmudgeon. It all starts on New Year’s Eve when the honours list is published. I’m always happy when people from the education sector are honoured and always miffed at the balance. We need more teachers and teaching assistants nominated! Being the sort I am I wasn’t content so I set about finding out how things work so we can all nominate people.

The UK Honours system is more open and transparent than it has ever been. Don’t be frightened of it, I’ve written a “how to” guide which explains nominating people step by step.

There are two ways people can be put forward for national recognition.

  • If you contact your local Lord Lieutenantoffice they can explain how to nominate a person to attend a Royal Garden Party.
  • Anyone can nominate another person for a national honour, there are no deadlines and it can all be done via email. The nomination process is all explained on the cabinet office pages. There is a simple “how to” guide herewhich draws on many different sources into one easy guide. I wrote it so people can see how easy it is.

There is currently an imbalance in the number of teachers recognised so we need more! The birthday honours in June 2017 had three teachers recognised. Not enough.

If you are a senior or middle leader, head of phase or department then think of a colleague who meets the criteria and nominate them. I’m sure there are thousands out there. Look around and think again how extraordinary the staff are in your school.

The very least we can do is thank teachers for all their hard work and care of the children in schools across the country.


Martin Matthews is National Leader of Governance, a chair of governors