Aspiration Awards 2022 – Teacher/Tutor of the Year Winner: Jack Turner
The Teacher/Tutor of the Year category in the Aspiration Awards honours educators who have gone over and above to support their learners. This could be anything from supporting a learner facing difficult circumstances, helping individuals overcome obstacles and surpass expectations, to delivering innovative and high-quality teaching that helps learners to achieve their career goals. This year’s winner is Jack Turner from Everton Free School, who has gone to exceptional lengths for his learners.
Hitting the right notes
Located in one of the most deprived areas of the UK, Everton Free School is an extension of the charitable arms of Everton Football Club and Everton in The Community. The school offers high-quality education and alternative provision for 13-16 learners who have been excluded or are at risk of exclusion. It provides a bespoke curriculum tailored to the individual needs and interests of each learner to support them to fulfil their potential.
Jack is one of the people who supports the learners to gain confidence and self-esteem. A talented musician, who once performed with his group at Glastonbury, Jack uses his music and creativity to hook in disengaged learners and make a difference in their lives. He has been described by his colleagues as someone who embodies the school vision and values and has supported many learners to success.
One learner came to Everton Free School from a local authority special needs department with 0% attendance and saw no value in education, masking a lack of self-confidence. Through perseverance and individualised support, Jack built a relationship with this young person and discovered they were a talented DJ. Jack designed a personalised curriculum for this learner, using the NCFE V Cert in Music Technology, which enabled him to gain core qualifications in a practical way, spending many hours developing DJ skills within a recording studio.
Thanks to Jack’s support, the young person is now performing publicly whilst continuing his further education studies. The learner’s mum was so impressed with Everton Free School, and in particular with Jack, that she decided to become a governor.
Setting the tone
Jack’s mentorship has also supported other learners to follow a career behind the decks. By studying the V Cert in Music Technology, and guidance from their teacher, several learners have left the school with the ambition of achieving a successful DJ career. One of Jack’s previous learners has even gained an Ibiza residency, which is a dream for many upcoming artists to play in the most iconic destination for dance music in the world.
In addition to his outstanding work with learners on a one-to-one basis, Jack is part of a team that has been working together to design and create a completely bespoke year 9 curriculum for very hard-to-reach young people.
Everton Free School is part of the Creative Collaborative, an Arts Council-led project, which aims to tap into young people’s creativity across the entire curriculum to engage them in learning. Most of the learners were previously persistent non-attendees, but now form a group of high attending students who are engaging with their learning. NCFE qualifications are used as the underpinning knowledge for this curriculum.
Jack commented on winning the Teacher/Tutor of the Year award: “I’d like to thank NCFE for this prestigious award. I owe it all to the school for taking me on, supporting me throughout and for giving me the chance to work with these amazing learners over the past few years, doing something that both they and I love.
“It’s a bit of a cliché but music really does have the power to bring people together regardless of age, class, race or background. I think it’s a great avenue to explore, especially for those individuals who may be looking for something beyond the confines of the more traditional core subjects. The music technology V Cert has really helped our students gain a wonderful insight into several key aspects of music, as well as appropriately preparing them for life beyond school as they take the next steps in their professional and educational careers.
“Working at Everton Free School is the best job I’ve ever had, and I’d go as far to say that it doesn’t even feel like work to me at all. Every day is different, both challenging and rewarding in equal measure, and I look forward to helping many more students in years to come.”
English Tutor, Rob Anderson added: “Jack is an inspiration to young people in our school. He has a transformational effect on learners who have lost their confidence, their motivation, and in some cases their willingness to be involved in education altogether.
“Jack’s passion for music shines through our students, who prior to joining have varying levels of experience. He has developed DJs who, without Jack, would never have had a go on a set of decks. What is most impressive about Jack’s work is his ability to instil the confidence in students to perform in front of others, even the most reluctant of learners.”