Shortlist announced for Collection Pot’s Teacher of the Year 2024 competition

As the end of term approaches, thousands of parents use 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. Parents and students across the nation have been hard at work nominating their teachers and there’s been so many deserving entries.

After more than 500 nominations, entries are now closed for our Teacher of the Year 2024 competition. We are delighted to announce our shortlist of five amazing teachers who have gone above and beyond for their students this year.

Ryan Collard

Ryan Collard teaches the reception class at Greenridge Primary Academy in Aylesbury. He has recently recovered from cancer treatment which left him with fertility issues. Despite these personal struggles, Mr Collard has remained totally dedicated to his class. He has been nominated by 5-year-old Callie Ragaven who was diagnosed with leukaemia herself. She nominated Mr Collard after he helped her settle into school and went out of his way to support her during her own treatment.

She said: “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.

“I have had the most fantastic start to school life thanks to Mr Collard and I don’t think it would have been quite the same without him. He deserves so much recognition for all his hard work. He always does his job with a big smile on his face and makes me feel really happy when I am at school. My family and I are truly thankful for his support this year, he is so incredibly deserving of this award.”

Mr Smail

Mr Smail is a PE teacher who has been described as “even better than Joe Wicks.” He has been teaching at Bishop Gilpin CofE Primary School in Wimbledon for more than 10 years and has been nominated by multiple students at his school who describe him as “the best teacher in the world.” Mr Smail is known for his incredible PE classes and after school club, including a PE class for parents. Since he joined the school, more than 80% of students have represented the school in sporting events covering 12 different sports, this includes the tag rugby team who recently competed in the London Youth games. He has also supported several students to go on to play sports professionally.

One of the parents who nominated Mr Smail is Natasha Rawdon-Rego who is mum to 8-year-old Isadora who is in Year 4. She said: 

“I nominate Mr Alec Smail as the best teacher in the world! For over four years, my daughter has thrived in his Sports sessions and PE classes. We’ve witnessed a remarkable boost in her confidence and skills across various sports, including cross country, netball, fitness, and dodgeball. Mr. Smail masterfully combines competition, structure, fun, and teamwork, making his PE lessons incredibly popular among children. 

“His passion and expertise are evident in every session, as he not only teaches each sport to a high standard but also instils a genuine love for them in the children he teaches. He consistently refines each child’s abilities, ensuring they reach their full potential.What I love is how Mr Smail makes every child feel valued and heard, finding ways for each one to feel like an integral part of the team.

“He goes above and beyond in his duties and dedicates countless hours beyond the school day to the school community. He takes the children on trips, organises opportunities for them to be rugby game mascots, plays in the teachers’ band for school fundraisers, and even spends his Sundays running parents’ tournaments to support the school. His love for the school community is evident in everything he does and we all love him for it!”

Mr Sam

Sam Haxhiu is affectionately known as Mr Sam to his students and teaches at Twickenham Primary Academy. He was tragically hit by a car over the half term holiday. The accident has left him with a broken back and ribs. He is currently unable to work and has been told he will need rehabilitation to learn to walk again. The accident has hit his students hard as he is a beloved teacher in their school. One child called Xander Love, who is in Mr Sam’s Year 4 class, has nominated him to be teacher of the year as he thinks Mr Sam could use some ‘cheering up.’

 Xander’s mum, Emma who helped him write the nomination wrote: “We’d love to cheer him up whilst he recovers at home. He really is the best and deserves something amazing after a really horrible accident.

“Mr Sam is a great inspiration for the Kids to show that when something really horrible happens it is important to carry on. When  I spoke to Mr Sam after the accident, the first thing he said was: ‘I just feel so bad for the children.’ He is a really dedicated teacher.”

Emma shared that the children have been putting together a video of their own jokes to send to Mr Sam in an effort to make him laugh while he goes through such a difficult time.

“The kids all miss him and hope to see Mr Sam back in September,” she said.

Mrs Slade

Mrs Slade teaches Year 2 at Wescott Infant School in Bracknell. She has been nominated by 7-year-old Betty Howett after she helped her grieve following the sudden death of her father. In her nomination, Betty said: 

 “My daddy died in February 2024 and she has been so kind, giving me cuddles, making dragons with me and always keeping me safe when I’m sad. She also is very good at talking to mummy when I need extra help”

Mr Charles

Mr Charles has only been a teacher for a year and is beloved for going out of his way to make every child ‘feel like an individual.’

Mr Charles who teaches at Holmesdale Community Infant School, in Reigate has been nominated by multiple students. He is known amongst parents and students for his sensitive approach to teaching and for dressing up in fun costumes to keep his class entertained.

Felix Black who is in Mr Charles’ Year One Class, was among the children who nominated Mr Charles.

He said: “This year has been Mr Charles’ first ever year as a teacher and his class (Dragonflies) all feel SO lucky we got to have him for year 1. 

“He is the kindest person in the world and makes us feel happy every day. He chooses to sit with us every Friday for lunch and my friend Grace said he was the person she was most looking forward to seeing at the start of term! Every morning he welcomes us with a smiley face and funny joke. We all love going to school because of him and he told me he spends his free time thinking of fun things for us to do in class together.

“Over the Easter holidays he made everyone in the class a special book filled with their favourite things to look at and colour in, and he makes us laugh all the time. We wish he could always be our teacher and feel so lucky we’ve been his first class. He’s a super-teacher and we want everyone in the world to know how great he is!”

The overall winner of Collection Pot’s Teacher of the Year Award will be announced on July 5th.

Prizes worth £1,500 are up for grabs. If one of your teachers is crowned Britain’s best, everyone wins!

£1,000 donation to your PTA

£250 Visit Britain Gift Card for the person nominating

£250 in a Collection Pot for the teacher

If you missed out on nominating your teacher, don’t worry, you can still create a Pot for them to show them how much their support has meant this year. 

Thousands of parents and students nationwide are already using Collection Pot to show their appreciation by grouping together to give their favourite teachers meaningful gifts. 

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