A round-up of the 2022 ‘Edufuturists’ Awards’, from Ben Whitaker.

Thursday, 30th June 2022 saw the return of the annual Edufuturists Awards, where ten awards were presented to amazing educators and organisations who are ‘Making It Happen’. With over 12,000 public votes, it was great to see so many people coming together to celebrate our education colleagues from around the world. The result of the public vote went alongside the decisions of our esteemed judging panel: Bukky Yusuf, Aftab Hussain, Georgina Dean, Jo Fletcher-Saxon, Patrick McGrath, Laura White, Lawrence Tijjani and Dave Leonard.

The 2022 winners

Here is a rundown of the award winners and what made them stand out.

Outstanding Achievement Award: Sugata Mitra

We were joined on the day by our ‘Outstanding Achievement in Education’ winner, Sugata Mitra, Professor Emeritus at NIIT University, Rajasthan, India. Sugata is the pioneer of the famous ‘Hole in the Wall’ experiment from 1999, which went on to inspire the maker of the ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ blockbuster film. He shared his findings from his career, including his ‘Self Organised Learning Environment’ (SOLE) model, and discussed his provocative yet exciting TES article, ‘Why giving internet access in exams is the future – even if it’s unfair’. 1 Mitra gave the keynote address and an extended interview with the Edufuturists team to round off the day.

Network Manager of the Year: Peter Horner

This hotly contested award was won by Peter Horner from Barton Peveril Sixth Form College. In the nomination, his colleagues said, “Peter has been instrumental at Barton Peveril in our use of technology for teaching and learning. He is both innovative and collaborative in his approach to problem solving and always has time for supporting teachers in our use of technology. The best thing about Peter is he has a way of getting us excited about the apps and technology available and helps spark new ideas about how we can use this in our lessons.”

FE College of the Year: City of Wolverhampton College

FE ‘College of the Year’ went to City of Wolverhampton College, despite tough competition from Burnley, Leeds City and Blackpool & Fylde. City of Wolverhampton College has embraced the use of the national ‘Inspiring Digital Enterprise Award’ (iDEA) programme, which enables participants to complete online challenges to earn digital badges – with students and apprentices achieving over 86,000 badges to date! Conrad Taylor, business learning and technologies manager at the college, said: “Winning this award is fantastic news for the college and a great way to end the academic year! We are extremely proud of the efforts that our students, apprentices and staff have put into embracing digital technology which will not only be of use in the classroom, but in their careers and day-to-day life too.”

Primary School and Secondary School of the Year: Britannia Village Primary and Halcyon School

Celebrating schools has always been a focus of the awards. Britannia Village Primary and Halcyon School International won this year, with the judges commenting on how impressed they were with how both winners were preparing students for the future, whilst delivering outstanding outcomes in the present.

Staff Engagement and Training Award: Lawrence Tijani

It’s also important to note that with all the will in the world, most schools wouldn’t have been able to make the advances in technology that they have if it weren’t for inspiring staff and senior leaders who are committed to ‘Staff Engagement and Training’.  Lawrence Tijani was presented with the 2022 award. Lawrence has been a pioneering lead on a number of training opportunities to upskill educators from a range of typically underrepresented communities. Through his mentorship and high-quality training, he has been able to support over 100 educators to gain their Google accreditations, through programmes such as the Diverse EdTech Educators (which champions Black and Asian Educators) and the Inclusive Trainer Google Community.

University of the Year: Teesside University

At the opposite end of the education spectrum, we saw Teesside University scoop up the University of the Year. Professor Mark Simpson, Pro Vice-Chancellor of Learning and Teaching, said, “Our Future Facing Learning programme has placed the University firmly at the forefront of the digital revolution in higher education and we will continue to drive innovation and creativity through digital technology.” This programme was highlighted by the judges as it seeks to digitally empower students and staff by embracing cutting-edge digital technology.

International Award: Ana Fabrega

One of the most important elements of the work that we do at Edufuturists is to look beyond the UK system towards what is happening all around the world. We could have given this to lots of inspiring educators who are pushing the needle but this year’s International Award was won by the amazing Ana Fabrega, Chief Evangelist at Synthesis, a new online learning experience for curious and ambitious kids who want to learn how to build the future. If you haven’t heard about their groundbreaking work, check out our podcast episode with their co-founder, Josh Dahn. 2

Wellbeing Champion Award: Beth Preston

Beth Preston from Queen Anne’s School, Caversham, was presented this award for  her amazing support work for staff and students alike. Dave; Beth; two of our other nominees, Sean Whitehead and Miriam Sechere from That Staff Room podcast; and our 2021 Award winner, Cat Lamin, joined us for a ‘Wellbeing Roundtable’ after the event to discuss ways to look after ourselves during the summer break. 3

Edufuturist of the Year: David Harkin

Our final award was our big one: Edufuturist of the Year. We had hundreds of nominations and the shortlist was comprised of real powerhouses in education: Al Kingsley – CEO of NetSupport, Jess Power – Digital Education Co-ordinator at Robert Gordon’s College, Lorraine McCool – Deputy Principal at Dominican College and, our eventual winner, David Harkin – CEO of 8billionideas. Every one of these would have been a worthy winner but the judges acknowledged that David’s work on leading strategy at the national level and the work on leadership and innovation for St James’ Palace just clinched it for him!

Looking to next year

Thanks so much to the thousands who watched us online, the partners who helped us make it happen, and for the amazing nominees, finalists and winners who are doing so much to make a real impact in and on our wonderful education systems. You can watch the whole ceremony here


  • Ben Whitaker

    Ben is an educational consultant working with a number of clients on both digital and cultural transformation. Prior to this, Ben has worked for 15 years in education as an assistant principal and curriculum manager.
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