Former Course Leader named Digital Innovator of the Year on BBC’s The One Show

Former College Course Leader, now Governor, Kalam Neale, was named as one of the nation’s most inspirational educators on The One Show, after being selected from thousands of nominations to win a coveted Gold Award in the Pearson National Teaching Awards for Digital Innovator of the Year.  

Jermaine Jenas, former professional footballer and TV presenter, surprised Kalam with his award as part of the ‘reveal’ on the BBC One show.  

The award comes as part of a week-long celebration of teaching which will culminate on Saturday, 26 November, at a prestigious ceremony celebrating the 90 Silver Winners of the Pearson National Teaching Awards. At the ceremony, Kalam will be honoured alongside their fellow Gold Winners across 16 categories as the best of the UK’s educators.  

Kalam envisioned, created and drove our ground-breaking, specialist esports provision, putting the students at its heart. We are a sector leader in the field because of his trailblazing work, and his expertise is now in demand in the UK and across the world as the Head of Education at British Esports. 

Kalam has been central to the creation of the country’s first ever college esports course and to the outstanding success of Barnsley’s esports division.  

Through his impressive vision, he has transformed the lives of his students, who now have the drive and confidence to succeed, with many going onto university. He uses esports to teach skills such as public speaking, through ‘shoutcasting’, business management, as well as digital skills.  

He launched a mentoring programme, matching his students with primary children, which is now being rolled out across College.  

“As a teacher, to win an award like this is not the kind of thing we’re used to. No one gets into education for the rewards. But it’s so special to be recognised, not just personally but also for Barnsley College for some of the amazing work we do.”

Health and wellbeing, both physical and mental, are important to Kalam, who includes compulsory health and wellbeing modules as part of the course to ensure students get enough exercise and understand how to take care of themselves. They do this through VR boxing, yoga, HADO and mindfulness, as well as diet plans and psychological support.  

These Pearson National Teaching Award winners are shining examples of the people who make schools and colleges so special and are a wonderful opportunity to recognise the unseen work that schools and colleges do on a daily basis, from going the extra mile to provide reassurance during uncertain times through to offering wider support to families who need it most. 

The Gold Award winners have been honoured for their incredible work supporting learners across the country. Each award winner has repeatedly gone above and beyond their role to change the lives of their students, supporting them and their families, and helping them move towards a brighter future.   

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 24th year of celebrating our school teaching staff across the UK.  

Kalam Neale, Governor and former Course Leader at College, said: “As a teacher, to win an award like this is not the kind of thing we’re used to. No one gets into education for the rewards. But it’s so special to be recognised, not just personally but also for Barnsley College for some of the amazing work we do.  

 “This recognition and validation for Esports on a national level is incredible. I’d love other teachers to see the amazing impact that Esports has had on our students and decide to come on this innovative and exciting journey with us.  

 “National awards like this go a long way to showing our students that anything is possible, no matter where you live. I went to Barnsley College, and it transformed my life, and I hope that I’ve been able to pay that forward to my students.”

Elise Ecoff, Group Education Director at Nord Anglia Education, sponsor of The Award for Digital Innovator of the Year, said: “I want to congratulate Kalam who has clearly used his passion to inspire his students. To win this award is a very special accomplishment, and I know he will continue to keep making a real difference in his students’ lives. I also want to thank all our wonderful teachers who make such a difference to the children they work with every day. They’re an inspiration to us all.”  

Sharon Hague, Managing Director, Pearson School Qualifications, said: “More than ever we are seeing the tireless work that our teachers, lecturers, and school staff do day in, day out, to support not only our children but their families too.  

“Congratulations to all our Gold Award winners, who are shining examples of the incredible work going on in our nurseries, schools and colleges every day. This week we have heard so many inspirational stories about our school staff that highlight the exceptional dedication they have to their students, their colleagues, and their communities.” 

Last updated: 25th November 2022

Originally posted on: 25th November 2022