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Norwich teacher wins international award for contributions to online safety education

Published: 13th June 2024

Justin Higgins of Thorpe St Andrew School and Sixth Form in Norwich was awarded the prestigious Childnet Star Teacher Award after being nominated by his Digital Leader pupils.

The competition asked young people across the globe to nominate a teacher who have; gone the extra mile to help their Digital Leader pupils in their online safety education, supported them in running online safety activities in their school, and is kind, supportive and creative.

One pupil who nominated Justin Higgins said, “[He is] an incredible person who always pushed myself and others on to paths we thought too big.”

On his award win, Justin said, “I am deeply grateful to the Digital Leaders for their nominations and proud of all they have accomplished since we started the programme in September. This award is a testament to their hard work, creativity, and dedication. I look forward to continuing to support and inspire them on their digital journey.”

What is the Star Teacher Award?

Childnet’s Star Teacher Award is run as part of the Digital Leaders Programme, a peer-led education programme which provides interactive, informative, and fun online learning modules covering the latest online safety issues and trends.

Young people work through training modules on Childnet’s gamified platform, equipping them with the skills they need to not only thrive online themselves, but also go on to educate and support their peers.

As part of the Digital Leaders Programme, the team at Childnet asked young people to nominate a teacher they thought was deserving of the accolade. In total almost 100 young people nominated their teachers – with 25 teachers being nominated for the award.

Justin Higgins awarded Star Teacher of 2024

Multiple students from Thorpe St Andrew School and Sixth Form nominated Justin for this award, with many praising his patience, kindness and passion for computing.

When talking about what makes Justin a Star Teacher, one young person said, “I probably wouldn’t have got this far into the programme without his help and advice.”

The Childnet Digital Leaders Programme prides itself on giving young people not just online safety knowledge, but a range of skills. One young person said that Justin led by example, stating “[He] gave us opportunities to work with the year groups within our school. This has helped us develop our teamwork and teaching skills.”

Digital Leaders at Thorpe St Andrew School and Sixth Form

The Digital Leaders at Thorpe St Andrew School and Sixth Form, led by Justin Higgins, have achieved a huge amount during their time on the programme. The young people have run a campaign about Pride computing heroes, taken part in a hackathon event at a local private school, and created and run inspiring workshops and posters for their peers.

Two Digital Leaders in the group, Gabrielle and Jack, are also Childnet Digital Champions, youth ambassadors for the programme who support with its development, as well as representing Childnet at large scale multi-stakeholder events throughout the year.

Highly commended for their work

Alongside Justin Higgins, Clare King and Catriona Houston have been highly commended for their work in the Star Teacher Awards.

Clare King, from Preston Primary School in Yorkshire, for making the time to run a wide variety of activities with her Digital Leaders, supporting her Digital Leaders with articulating their ideas, and helping them to grow in confidence.

The Digital Leaders Team have also honoured Catriona Houston, who has gone above and beyond to support her Digital Leaders from St. Patrick’s College in Dungannon, Northern Ireland.