Deaf Academy teachers honoured with prestigious Pearson’s Award.


Matt Jenkins and Joanna Fison have won Silver Awards in The Lockdown Hero Award for Learner and Community Support category. 

Two Teachers of the Deaf have been recognised in a prestigious national award.

Matt Jenkins and Jo Fison, who are teachers at the Devon-based Deaf Academy, have won silver in the Pearson National Teaching awards in the Lockdown Hero Award for Learner and Community Support.

They are the only Teachers of the Deaf to be honoured in the awards and have now been shortlisted to win one of just 15 Gold Awards later in the year, in a programme which will be broadcast on the BBC.

Selected from thousands of nominations, Matt and Jo were honoured as two of 102 Pearson National Teaching Silver Award winners across the country for their outstanding commitment to changing the lives of the children they work with every day. 

They were nominated for the award by the Deaf Academy. Matt’s nomination read:

“Matt Jenkins is an enthusiastic teacher with a wealth of innovative ideas, applying solutions to difficulties commonly faced by deaf learners and able to ‘think out of the box’ to ensure solutions are workable and meaningful. Driven by a desire to ensure that deaf learners had equal access to information and learning around COVID, Matt developed the popular ‘Ask Deaf teachers’ YouTube channel, developing online resources in sign language that were fun, engaging and accessible to all deaf children and young people. This was central to the development and delivery of the school’s Online Academy to draw out potential in students and ensure full engagement to learning while recognising the challenges faced by deaf students in accessing learning online. “

And Jo’s stated:

“Jo Fison is an experienced teacher who ensured that online platforms were sign language friendly, able to stream sign language efficiently and clearly, and considered well-being at the heart of all delivery. She ensured online platforms were accessible to all, even those who had not grown up within the digital age, giving up much of her time, to lead, to hand-hold and to cajole staff in believing that teaching remotely was possible. As a result, students who are deaf with additional needs were able to continue their learning throughout lockdown, maintain standards and return to the Academy post lockdown.”

Deaf Academy Principal, Sylvan Dewing said: “Lockdown has been a very difficult time across the country, in particular for young people with additional needs and their families. A fantastic achievement for Jo and Matt and wonderful recognition for everyone who worked here during that difficult time. They are all heroes!”  

The Pearson National Teaching Awards is an annual celebration of excellence in education, founded in 1998 by Lord Puttnam to recognise the life-changing impact an inspirational teacher can have on the lives of the young people they work with. This year marks its 22nd year of celebrating, award-winning teachers, teaching assistants, headteachers and lecturers across the UK . The awards were announced on ‘Thank a Teacher Day’.

Sir Michael Morpurgo, celebrated author and former Children’s Laureate, and President of the Teaching Awards Trust, said: “Thank a Teacher Day gives us all a chance –  children, families, all of us – to pay tribute to those wonderful educators who change more lives than they will ever know. Today we say thank you to the teachers who have helped our young people navigate these most difficult of times, and who will continue to inspire countless young minds over the coming years.”

Sharon Hague, Senior Vice President of Schools at Pearson UK, said: “After a year like no other we want to take today to say thank you to all the incredible school staff who have kept children and young people learning despite unprecedented challenges. We hope the celebrations today show how much you are appreciated, and that your hard work has not gone unnoticed nor unrecognised.”