Homeira Zakary, Principal at George Eliot Academy has been named as one of 80 Pearson National Teaching Award Silver Award winners across the country on ‘Thank a Teacher Day’. Homeira is honoured with a Silver Award in the Headteacher of the Year category for her outstanding commitment to changing the lives of her pupils. Homeira became principal in 2017 and her transformative work successfully delivered a ‘Good’ Ofsted outcome in 2021. She leads with a clear vision and great energy and has undertaken swift action to improve outcomes and academic rigour.

Homeira has been instrumental in helping the Midland Academies Trust to build a broad and ambitious five-year curriculum that supports the development of long term memory and learning. At George Eliot Academy, she has maintained a relentless focus on raising standards by creating a culture of high expectations, kindness, and gratitude in which everyone understands their responsibilities.

Homeira has worked hard to build relationships within George Eliot Academy, and with the local community, parents, all the Trust academies, other secondary schools, and the feeder primary schools’ network. Under her leadership, the Academy has introduced several new initiatives, including the school’s STAR values, which promote self-discipline, tenacity, ambition, and responsibility. Homeira has reinforced parental and community relationships by actively promoting the Parents’ Voice group and a range of community activities.

Understanding the financial pressures on parents, Homeira led on an initiative to allocate school budget to fund school uniforms for all new Year 7 pupils.  Homeira is the Trust lead on science and continues to teach a Year 11 group, enabling her to stay abreast of curriculum developments.

As part of the Midland Academies Trust, George Eliot Academy has benefited from high quality continuous professional development for its staff, and the opportunity for leaders to share their expertise via principal and subject leader networks. Homeira has been supported through shared good practice which has led to improved outcomes for pupils. The Trust supports the co-ordination of the curriculum across its schools, easing staff workload and enabling more resources to be dedicated to enriching pupils’ experiences.

As a Silver Award winner, Homeira has now been shortlisted to win one of just 16 Gold Awards later in the year. These once-in-a-lifetime achievements will be broadcast on the BBC’s The One Show as part of a week-long celebration of teaching which will see famous faces honour award winners every night in the run up to the ceremony.

The Silver Award winners are being honoured as part of the wider celebrations for national ‘Thank a Teacher Day’, bringing together everyone across the country to celebrate the schools and colleges at the heart of our communities. 

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 23rd year of celebrating school teaching staff across the UK. 

Marion Plant, OBE FCGI, Chief Executive of the Midland Academies Trust said, “This is a fantastic achievement for Homeira and great news for George Eliot Academy which is going from strength to strength under her leadership. Homeira has made a significant impact on the school’s improvement over the last five years, and I am pleased that her dedication and commitment have achieved national recognition. We wish Homeira the best of luck for the final.”

Nadhim Zahawi, Secretary of State for Education said, “Congratulations to Homeira on this incredible achievement, and for the hard work and dedication which led up to it. Winning this award is impressive, well-deserved and shows Homeira’s commitment to helping students achieve their full potential.”

Michael Morpurgo, celebrated author and former Children’s Laureate, and President of the Teaching Awards Trust, said, “For so many of us, it was someone at school who changed our lives, was at our side through hard and difficult times, who lifted us up when we were down, helped us find our voice, gave us confidence when we needed it most, and set us on a path that we have followed ever since. 

“No matter who we are, school has touched our lives and played a central role in our childhoods. School is about so much more than learning, and we see that now more than ever before. Schools really are the beating heart of our communities. Every person that cares for our children in schools should be celebrated loud and clear on Thank A Teacher Day 2022.”