Homeira Zakary, the principal of George Eliot Academy has been formally presented with a Silver award by the Teaching Awards Trust at a ceremony held on board the Dixie Queen as it sailed under Tower Bridge.

Last month, Homeira was named as one of 80 Pearson National Teaching Award Silver Award winners across the country on ‘Thank a Teacher Day’. Homeira was recognised in the Headteacher of the Year category for her outstanding commitment to changing the lives of her pupils. Homeira became principal in 2017, and was instrumental in the achievement of a ‘Good’ Ofsted outcome in 2021.

The awards ceremony, hosted by Mary Palmer, CEO of the Teaching Awards Trust, was followed by a river cruise on the Thames and a celebratory afternoon tea for all the Silver winners.

Homeira has been working with 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, as well as with the local community, parents, the other Trust academies, local 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.

As part of the Midland Academies Trust, George Eliot Academy has benefitted 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, reducing 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 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 fantastic recognition for Homeira and George Eliot Academy which continues to go from strength to strength under her leadership. We wish Homeira the best of luck for the final later in the year.”