Collection Pot’s Teacher of the Year winner announced

The end of term is just around the corner and thousands of parents have been using Collection Pot to say thanks to their kids’ teachers by grouping together to get them a gift. To celebrate the hard work and dedication of teachers, teaching assistants, support staff and headteachers, we’ve teamed up with Fun Kids Radio to find the nation’s best teacher. And the moment has finally come to announce the winner.

After more than 500 nominations for teachers from over 300 schools across the UK we have whittled it down to one.

Collection Pot’s Teacher of the Year 2024 is Mr Collard who teaches Reception class at Green Ridge Primary Academy in Aylesbury.

We were blown away by Mr Collard’s story. The reception class teacher has had a gruelling few years. After being diagnosed with stage 3 testicular cancer aged 23 and in the year he qualified as a teacher, he underwent treatment and was declared in remission. Unfortunately, the gruelling treatment left him unlikely to have kids of his own. Despite these personal challenges, he went on to provide exceptional care and support to his students.

One of those students was 5-year-old Callie. Callie was diagnosed with leukaemia last year and is still undergoing treatment. Due to the severity of her treatment, Callie had to push her start date for school from September to January and her parents were concerned she would miss out and struggle to settle into school. 

Unbeknownst to them, Mr Collard had requested to have Callie in his class to support her during this difficult period in her life.

Callie’s mum, Shalinee said: “He specifically requested to have Callie in his class as he knew how hard cancer treatment can be. He was so understanding from day one and sent her videos of the kids in the class and even hand-delivered a party bag to our door that one child had brought into school as he didn’t want her to miss out.”

Callie’s heartfelt nomination read: “I started Reception this year having just been diagnosed with leukaemia and Mr Collard has given me the most incredible start to school life that I could have ever imagined. He has always gone above and beyond to ensure I am well looked after, supported, and cared for in Birch class. Nothing is ever too much for Mr Collard and he does his job with so much love and dedication.”

Upon hearing that he had won the competition, Mr Collard said: “Teachers are all different and everyone has their own idea of what makes a good teacher. My priority is that the children are happy. If they feel safe and are excited to come to school, that’s all I can ask for. If they are happy and safe, then they will learn. To be nominated by the parents is extremely overwhelming and has made me feel super proud of myself. After cancer treatment it can often feel like you may never achieve your full potential anymore, but this has proved me wrong.”

Mr Collard, who recently welcomed his miracle baby boy Carter after going through IVF with his partner, also opened up about how challenging he found teaching reception class while he was undergoing his own fertility struggles.

“I really struggled coming back to work and seeing all the wonderful kids. Reception age is my favourite age as they are just so magical and hilarious, so teaching them was a great distraction. 

However, sending them off to their parents and seeing how excited they got was heartbreaking as I thought I may never have that experience.”

He continued: “We were extremely lucky this year to have our little boy Carter who is 9 weeks old today. He has genuinely changed my life. Before him it was a daily struggle and I would constantly ask myself “what purpose do I have in life?” I felt like such a burden. Luckily, my wife Sophie was my biggest motivator and kept me going at the darkest of times, reminding me that we’d be parents no matter what!”

“But since the arrival of Carter, everything changed! The happiness I feel is like nothing I’ve ever felt before, and I try to take that happiness and positivity into school with me every day!”

We want to say a huge well done to Mr Collard. He wins £250 in his Collection Pot and £1000 for his school. Callie wins £250 Visit Britain Gift Card.

We also want to congratulate our four other shortlisted teachers, you can read more about them here.

It is not too late to celebrate a teacher who has gone above and beyond. You can start a Collection Pot today to show them how much they are appreciated.

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