A TEACHER who helped implement Penketh High School's pioneering STEM 'makerspace' has received a national award.

Caroline Keep was crowned 'New teacher of the year' at the prestigious 2018 Tes Schools Awards in London on Friday, June 22.

The awards, celebrating their tenth year, recognise outstanding contributions made by education teams and individuals to help students around the country to succeed, both inside and outside the classroom.

Caroline retrained to become a physics teacher, having previously worked as a geotechnical engineer.

During her PGCE year, she helped to organise a festival to promote science, technology, engineering, art and maths (STEAM) and maker-education for young people.

Known as Liverpool MakeFest, it is now in its fourth year.

In her PGCE year Caroline also published her first education paper, 'The Tardis Effect: mobile phones and Stem teaching'.

Two years ago, Caroline joined Future Tech Studio School in Warrington as an NQT.

She quickly engaged her pupils by promoting hands-on learning via Arduino and RaspberryPi technology, which led to her class winning the regional Big Bang contest and heading to the national finals in Birmingham with a nuclear waste robotics project.

Her school won an Educate to Innovate award that year as a result of this achievement.

Caroline also won the Amaze Award for digital excellence with a RaspberryPi weather station project.

She achieved her first 100 per cent pass rate for physics that year and, in addition, published a second academic paper.

Unfortunately, the Winwick Road school was closed in the summer of 2017.

However, Caroline was quickly snapped up by Penketh High School, where she reorganised the physics curriculum, before opening the first state school 'makerspace' in the UK.

The judges said: “Caroline stood out as she is such an inspirational role model – both for other new teachers and for pupils.

"As such an enthusiastic and knowledgeable champion for STEAM learning, her impact in a relatively short time has been phenomenal both in its reach and in its excellence. Her drive, determination and passion for teaching shines out of all she does.”

Head teacher John Carlin, added: "We are delighted for Caroline that her work on improving wider educational opportunities for pupils has been recognised with such a prestigious award. Caroline is committed to raising the profile of STEM and digital education opportunities for young people, not only at the school but also within our local and wider communities.

"She recognises the benefits of holistic development can bring to young people, helping them to build key learning characteristics such as resilience, independence, curiosity and a passion for learning. 

"Caroline has played a fundamental role in developing the first makerspace housed within a UK state school and SPARK at Penketh has already provided significant opportunities for pupils to engage in wider learning that extends their classroom curriculum. We've already seen through some internal research that delivery of tricky topic areas through SPARK can impact positively on the outcomes pupils are receiving in these areas and for a school that's a fantastic resource to better support our pupils.

"SPARK has achieved a lot in a short space of time since opening in February and Caroline's plans for delivery through SPARK next year are more comprehensive and we're delighted that we're in a position to support Caroline to be able to offer more of this enrichment across the curriculum.

"Caroline is passionate about her field and wants to extend the influence of SPARK, as a school we are committed to actively engaging and supporting our local community. So it's always nice to be able to offer something on wider community basis that extends beyond our school community. We were pleased that Caroline, in partnership with a makerspace in North Carolina, could offer weekend sessions for anyone in the local community to attend. Focused on robotics, the "Robo-Dojo" has extended the reach of SPARK and inspired young people in our locality."