How Can You Thank A Teacher?

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How do we thank teachers for their work?

Almost all teachers see teaching as more than just a ‘job’. They care deeply about their students and want the very best for them. No one becomes a teacher expecting a hedge fund salary, adulation or a gold clock as recognition! Many would be deeply offended if there was an “school employee of the month”, but everyone likes being thanked.

On Sunday 22nd October, I had the privilege of attending the Pearson’s Teaching Awards in Central London – you can read who the winners are before the programme is aired live on the BBC2 on Sunday 29th October at 6PM. Finding the best way to thank colleagues is important and there are more options out there than you might imagine! So, what can we do and where can we look?


The National Teaching Awards (The Pearson Teaching Awards) are well-known and have gained considerable positive publicity over the last few years. I was surprised to hear that the charity receives no funding from the Government, despite other British countries funding the trust. If you know a teacher or team who fit the criteria, put them forward. It will do nothing but good for the person, team and school and should have the support of the senior leadership team (SLT).

The Pearson Teaching Awards will also send teachers a “thank you” card for free and anyone can take part. It’s quick and easy to do and just need to fill in an online form and the card is sent directly to them. Every “thank you” becomes a nomination for a national Teaching Award, which culminates in an awards ceremony broadcast on BBC2 as Britain’s Classroom Heroes.

Local or regional

Locally Multi-Academy Trusts (MATs) and Local Authorities (LA) have the opportunity to celebrate excellence across their organisation by having their own annual recognition system. Many already do this so search out the form and put someone’s name forward. It’ll do wonders for them and your phase/department knowing their collective work is valued.

If there isn’t a local award ceremony, suggest to senior management they develop one. Valuing staff helps retain them and its more than an evening out. It shows that people are looking at the work of individual teachers and valuing what everyone does.


Do you know an extraordinary teacher who has made an outstanding contribution to the profession? You could pour thanks all over them but you could also go the extra mile yourself and nominate them for the Global Teacher Prize, a US $1 million award!

The prize serves to underline the importance of educators and the fact that, throughout the world, their efforts deserve to be recognised and celebrated. It seeks to acknowledge the impacts of the very best teachers – not only on their students but on the communities around them.

The criteria is rigorous. Previous winners have included Nancie Atwell from the United States in 2015, Hanan Al Hroub from Palestine in 2016 and this years winner, announced from the International Space Station, is Maggie MacDonnell of Canada – we wrote about her story last week.

Meet the ’10 best teachers in the world’ here.

‘Retiring teacher’ letter of thanks

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 that’s the vast majority. Teachers do exceptional work day in day out. This letter isn’t sent automatically, make sure you fill in the form.

The UK honours system

There is also the national honours system. There are two ways people can be put forward for different recognition.

  1. If you contact your local Lord Lieutenant office they can explain how to nominate a person to attend a Royal Garden Party.
  2. Anyone can nominate someone else, there is no deadline 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 here which draws on many different sources into one easy guide.

There is currently an imbalance in the number of teachers recognised so we need more! If you are a senior leader, head of phase or department then think of a teacher who meets the criteria and nominate them. There should be more than one!

If you’ve read this far and you don’t think you know an exceptional teacher look again. At the very least, thank teachers for their extraordinary hard work and diligence – you could consider thanking a governor too.

All teachers have superpowers … if no one thanks you for your work, then give yourself a pat on the back and thank yourself.

Thank you to Martin Matthews for bringing all of this information together.

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