April 23, 2021

Preparing students to be innovative and solve complex, real-world problems has led to Hale Design and Technologies (D&T) Teacher, Simon Tilley being named national Teacher of the Year in Technology Education.

In April, the Design and Technologies Teachers’ Association (DATTA) of Australia recognised Simon for his contributions to teacher professional learning, competitions for students, programmes that encourage opportunity, and interest in the subject – “and all done selflessly for the benefit of teachers and students.” He had previously won the State Award.

Some of Simon’s achievements include initiating the use of Arduino Unos and Nanos into D&T at Hale; creating the Hale Connect STEM Challenge involving 150 Year 9 boys and girls from more than 25 schools; presenting professional development lessons to teachers showing methods of integrating STEM in the classroom; and undertaking a MPhil in STEM research to examine relationships between STEM and possible subject selection.

Simon said he felt fortunate to work in a subject area that was constantly evolving.

“With a subject as diverse as technology and the accessibility to a variety of media, that lets us observe recent scientific breakthroughs and discoveries and make links between old ones,” he said. “We can nurture creativity and innovation in its many forms and encourage the use of whatever subject areas are needed to solve the problem at hand.” 

D&T colleague Braydon Butler nominated Simon for the award and praised him for his commitment to his students.

“Simon is an exceptional educator,” Braydon said. “He works tirelessly for the benefit of his students. Since he arrived at Hale some seven years ago, he has always put the education of his students first. Simon has shown leadership within his school and with the support of his Head of Department, established a programme that has the boys focussing on STEM and the skills needed for the future ahead of them.”

Born and raised in the United Kingdom, Simon started his career as a designer craftsman, making one-off pieces of furniture that included board room tables for the G7 World Summit, the Duke of Westminster, Esso, Shell and British Aerospace to name a few. He later changed direction, studying teaching and landing his first job in a “challenging school” in London. After two years, he was invited to apply for a job at prestigious boys’ boarding school Eton College, which he initially thought was a joke, but he found himself there for the next 16 years “dressing like a groom at a wedding in a white bow tie, wing collars, waistcoat and morning suit whilst trying to teach welding to prime ministers’ children and royalty!” 

When a job offer came up at Hale School eight years ago, he moved to Australia and hasn’t looked back!

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