National Teaching Awards 2004 - Michael Duffy meets the regional winners. This week: Baldev Singh, winner of the innovation award in the west of England

15th October 2004 at 01:00
Thirty-nine-year-old Baldev Singh has been teaching for six years. Before that he was a cancer research specialist. Disillusioned with the constant need to chase funding and with a wife already training to be a teacher, he decided to change tack and join her. "It was the best thing I've ever done," he says.

He was fortunate in his first appointment. The John Cabot city technology college in Bristol was newly built, well resourced and well staffed; there was a shared commitment to technology and innovation. Baldev was given an A-level biology set that was working on histology - the minute structure of tissue - and was pondering the old problem of helping students to see what their microscopes should be showing. "How much easier," he thought, "to use research slides from the internet." So he set up a school biology website - one of the first in the country. "It really made a difference to the teaching and the learning," he says.

It certainly made a difference to Baldev. The school asked him to develop a similar approach to the teaching of key skills and then, in 2003 (when Baldev was head of ICT), citizenship.

"I knocked up a website showing how we could teach the 24 topics and give everybody the core skills of ICT as well: spreadsheets, databases, the internet."

"E-Cit", a weekly 80-minute lesson for Years 7 to 9, is now in its second year at John Cabot. Four other schools are piloting it, and it will feature at next year's Bett education technology exhibition.

It has also brought some spectacular spin-offs. Through the college's links with a township in South Africa, Baldev is helping to provide computers and computer training; through the British Council's Wired Communities programme, he's involved in teacher training in Egypt; and he helps pupils in Bristol to work collaboratively with their contemporaries in India.

His pupils have taken his award in their stride. "What excited them more was e-mailing our MP from their desks and getting an immediate promise to visit them in reply." As Baldev says, it was E-Cit in action.

The final of the Teaching Awards will be held in London on October 24 and will be broadcast on BBC2 the same day. Nominations for next year's awards are open at www.teaching awards.com

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