The deadline for applications to the Classroom Changemakers award is 2 March 2020 at 9am.
The award programme is open to maths and computer science teachers and teaching assistants working in secondary schools or colleges in the UK. This award is only open to those who are based at state-funded or charitable school/colleges in the UK.
Groups of teachers/teaching assistants who have worked together to develop an idea can apply for the award as a group, although we would expect to work with one lead contact.
No – the application needs to be made by the teachers/teaching assistants who would be the winner. If there is a teacher/teaching assistant who you think is a perfect fit for the Classroom Changemakers award, please contact them directly to suggest they make an application.
We are open to awarding activities which have already received funding.
No, you can only submit one application per teacher. Schools/colleges can submit multiple applications, but teachers can only be involved in one application each.
Yes, there is a recording of the webinar we held on 6 February. The webinar begins at 04:45. The webinar covers the background to the awards programme, the selection and eligibility criteria and details on the sorts of ideas we're looking for.
The requirements of the award are:
We anticipate a high volume of applications and so will not be issuing individual feedback. We will publish some summary feedback to all shortlisted applicants.
Final decisions will be made in mid-March 2020.
Applications close on 2 March 2020 at 9am.
We will announce the full list of judges in January or February.
To recognise and support teachers, Classroom Changemakers will receive:
There are 15 awards of £5,000 available.
Each idea will receive £5,000. This money will be paid to the school/college and money will need to be used to further programmes in either maths or computer science.
Please note that Nesta can only fund projects that advance our charitable objects for public benefit.
Through these awards Nesta aims to:
We look forward to celebrating the awarded teachers and teaching assistants at an event in April in London. We are hoping that being part of the Classroom Changemakers will develop collaboration, expand networks and raise the profile of awardees’ ideas. We therefore advise attendance at the launch, except in cases of extenuating circumstances.
Each winning teacher or teaching assistant who has been involved in an application can attend the final event with an additional guest. Nesta will be able to cover reasonable supply and travel costs for the teachers/teaching assistants involved in an application. We will unfortunately not be able to provide travel and supply costs for additional guests.
We are looking to award teachers and teaching assistants who have developed and tried out an idea in their classroom which aims to give young people the opportunity to be creative and/or solve problems in maths or computer science.
We’re particularly keen to hear from teachers and teaching assistants whose idea also connects maths or computer science to real-world problems and aims to inspire a diverse range of students to engage with and enjoy these subjects.
Nesta conducted a Rapid Evidence Assessment (consisting of a TeacherTapp survey, semi-structured interviews with teachers, and a review of international research and practice) on how teachers are currently providing young people with opportunities to be creative and solve problems in maths and computer science.
Our interviews with teachers highlighted the following approaches in use in schools across the UK, ranging from individual lessons or approaches to particular topics, to generalised whole-school approaches:
Our below review of the research literature on teaching creativity and problem-solving in maths and computer science found several main approaches for building these skills.
We hope that the ideas outlined below may help you to complete your application or work out where your idea fits in current teaching practice. However, this list is not exhaustive, so please do not be discouraged from applying if your idea does not easily fall into one of the below examples.
The evidence on teaching for creativity and problem-solving in maths highlights the following key features of classrooms and activities conducive to these skills: interactive and collaborative environments, rich tasks, open-ended questions, multiple-solution tasks, and complex, unfamiliar and non-routine tasks.
Rich tasks: The Millenium Maths Project is a maths education and outreach initiative by the University of Cambridge. Their NRICH website provides detailed guidance on promoting rich mathematical thinking in the classroom, and the Wild Maths resource suggests lesson ideas for developing creativity in maths at ages 7-16. Featured strategies are gamification, design challenges, and visualising problems through the use of simple craft materials.
Project-based learning: Cooperation between teachers of different subjects within a school to deliver a cross-curricular learning programme can help students both to meet within-subject learning goals and work towards a holistic project. The knowledge and skills content of both maths and computer science lend themselves to a wide range of project applications, such as product design and marketing, creating a computer game, or making a musical instrument. Teachers in some contexts have developed links with local organisations e.g. with local government departments or businesses such as architectural firms and logistics companies, who can supply a real-life challenge, help students understand work contexts, and build relationships across local communities.
Metacognitive approaches: This kind of approach enables students to build a consistent approach to problem-solving and creative thinking, by developing specific steps to apply to a given problem. The CREATE method, developed as part of OECD research into creativity and critical thinking, is a way for teachers and students to scaffold learning (particularly in maths) through a process of decomposing the problem; reconstructing connections to generate ideas; exploring, explaining and experimenting; looking for additional strategies and methods; considering limitations/contradictions; evaluating the solution.
Art: Methods which allow students to explore and apply mathematical concepts and skills – from the basic such as measuring and constructing, to the more complex such as percentages and equations – within an artistic project. Artful Maths provides lesson ideas and resources for teaching maths through creative short-term projects.
Dialogic teaching: A student-centred pedagogical technique that allows students to strengthen their mathematical knowledge and reasoning through engagement with others, with the teacher in a facilitating role. For example, a programme for students struggling in maths lessons in New Jersey emphasised the need to establish norms such as: allowing students to pose problems; not confirming if students were right or wrong in order to allow space for reasoning, justifications, and autonomous conclusions; students being responsible for their classmates’ learning as well as their own. Dialogic teaching aims to combat the highly procedural and routine approaches that are found in many maths classrooms.
The literature on computer science advises achieving a balance between computer-based and “unplugged” activities for developing creativity and computational thinking. Nesta and others have argued that teaching should emphasise the thinking skills entailed in computer science above their application. The following examples provide a mixture of the thinking and doing experience.
Games - playing and creating: Computer games can be a tool to provide students with opportunities to be creative and solve problems. Games such as CodeMonkey and LightBot challenge students to use programming skills to solve problems within games. Coding their own games using software such as MissionMaker allows students to be creative and independent in applying their coding skills and knowledge, and to iteratively solve problems as they bring their plans into being. Such projects can usefully be interdisciplinary. For example, UCL’s Knowledge Lab led a programme with 14-year-olds in London to link the English and Computer Science curricula: students created games based on their reading of the poem Beowulf.
Unplugged: An approach to teaching computational thinking skills away from the computer. CS Unplugged is a resource of lessons and units for teaching concepts that form the computational thinking process, such as algorithmic thinking, abstraction and decomposition (for 5-14-year-olds).
Competitions and challenges: Opportunities for children and young people to apply problem-solving and coding skills to a particular task or challenge, in competition with their classmates and/or international peers. Examples of such competitions are the TCS Oxford Computing Challenge and the Bebras Challenge.
The examples provided above are from Nesta’s Rapid Evidence Assessment on how schools and teachers are providing opportunities for young people to be creative and solve problems. We have provided the list to help illustrate the types of ideas we’re looking for. This is not an exhaustive list and we are hoping that the awards programme will unearth many other examples of great ideas from the classroom.
We are hoping that this award will help showcase the brilliant work happening in maths and computer science through the dissemination of the ideas and collaboration between those involved. We also hope that this awards programme will be a platform for developing a further fund in this area.