Burlington Danes Academy’s Laura Stone wins “Inspirational Teacher of the Year” national honours

ARK Schools is delighted to announce that Laura Stone, Head of Humanities at Burlington Danes Academy in Hammersmith, London, has been named “Inspirational Teacher of the Year” at the 2013 Times Educational Supplement Awards, held on 05 July.

Alison Downey, Vice Principal of Burlington Danes: I’ve worked with Laura for three years and she is a force of nature. She is not just an outstanding teacher in her own subject and faculty, she is a woman with a mission to inspire.”

Laura has made an indelible mark on her school, her colleagues, her students and the ARK Schools network. Ms Stone came to Burlington Danes as a geography teacher after two masters degrees (in education and in geography) and years travelling the globe, leading tours, trekking in the Himalayas, camping in deserts and elsewhere and sharing her expertise and enthusiasm with travellers and adventurers of all ages. It was inevitable that her journey would lead to a true vocation in teaching.

Laura describes Burlington Danes Academy’s geography course as: “stimulating students’ interest in their surroundings and sense of wonder about the world, encouraging them to become global citizens, engaging with the past, present and future issues facing our planet.”

Her talent, eye-witness knowledge and enthusiasm turned the geography department around. Geography GCSE results shot from around 40 percent to consistently in the 70s, and take-up went from one GCSE group to three this year and four from September 2013. Building on students’ enthusiasm, Laura introduced A level geography classes and now has high-achieving, enthusiastic year 12 and 13 classes.

Regularly graded as an outstanding teacher at Burlington Danes, Laura completed the ARK Schools’ outstanding teacher programme, soon delivering whole school INSET training and later running a highly rated session at ARK Schools’ network-wide annual training summit for teachers from across the country in October. Her colleagues nominated her for the ARK Schools’ lead teacher award (which she won).

She recently stepped up to be Head of Burlington Danes’ Humanities Faculty, taking on History and A levels. Laura’s passion is that geography is a living, practical subject that students learn through experience. She has pioneered extensive curricular field trips to Wales and Sussex at GCSE and A level. Although staff shortages mean she teaches two GCSE groups at a time, her top-quality lessons are highly rated by students and monitors.

Sophy Blakeway, ARK Schools’ Director of Education: “Laura is an inspiration not only to her students, but also to her fellow educators. We are very proud of her and the work that she’s done.”