Victoria Neumark assesses what it takes to be a TESASE Science Teacher of the Year, and introduces the contenders for the awards
Julia Kelly, class teacher, at Dudley Infant school, Hastings
With her pupils' brains teased by questions like "does a badger like spaghetti bolognaise?" her class of five-year-olds is entranced by science. She has developed the use of a school garden, with careful logbook (and fox), as a resource and involved the junior school in releasing helium-filled balloons to support a lesson on air.
Jackie Phillips, science co-ordinator and deputy head at St Mary's RC Primary School, Cardiff
"Entering her class is like entering an Aladdin's cave of discovery," enthuses a parent governor. Jackie has also led the school to three major awards: Norris Award in '94 and '95 and Science Challenge in '94.
Chris Denton, class teacher, Mulbarton First School, Mulbarton, Norfolk Chris Denton has "fired other teachers with her enthusiasm", says Rosemary Sherrington, science adviser in Norfolk. Her repertoire of ideas includes using photos for children to monitor and assess their work and trying their hypotheses.
Angela Murphy, deputy head, St Lukes RC Primary School, Salford
Her role as science co-ordinator was recently recognised by OFSTED inspectors as giving a "very strong lead in the development of science across the school" and has secured the confidence of her colleagues.
Julie Fitch, science co-ordinator acting deputy head, Crabtree Junior school, Harpenden, Hertfordshire
"Julie is a great believer that science is everywhere," says Kate Smith, parent governor at Crabtree School. As an enthusiastic teacher of Year 6, she has founded the Crabtree Clever Clogs science club.
Jill Matthews, assistant teacher and science consultant, Upton County Junior School, Kent
She has encouraged her pupils to enter science quizzes, act with visiting theatre in education companies and win prizes for studies on such topics as "What if there were no toothpaste?" SECONDARY
Julie Fleetwood, science teacher, Ralph Allen School, Bath
"The teacher did not raise her voice yet all her lesson objectives were fully met," said one observer of a Year 11 top set working on polymers for the double science award. A Year 7 science club organised by sixth-formers and an A-level chemistry clinic are popular, a popularity reflected in increasing numbers taking A-level chemistry.
Brendan Harkin, head of science, St Brecan's High School, Londonderry
His success is grounded in the relationships he establishes by involving pupils in the higher skills of learning. Imaginative devices such as using string telephones round a football pitch to teach sound transfer through "Chinese whispers" illuminate science for pupils from a deprived area.
Kathryn Coxall, deputy head, Northcott Special School, Hull
A non-science specialist who has worked hard to develop her science skills, she creates a warm atmosphere, but pupils know that she will stand no nonsense. She has designed all the school's teaching resources for key stage 4, so successfully that the local education authority has funded a laboratory.
Raymond Lyons, head of science, All Saints RC High School, Liverpool
Pupils and headteacher join in extolling his "excellent" relationship with staff, students and parents. A "revolution" in science has led to "dramatic" improvements in exam results and a commendation in the Department of Trade and Industry Science School of the Year competition.
Pauline Edwards, head of science, Phoenix Special School, London
She is dedicated to the entitlement of all children to the science curriculum. A tough but tender teacher, she is an efficient head of department who is beloved by her pupils (one of whom nominated her for the award).