It was time for teachers to get their night of glory, as the first National Teaching Hero Awards were honoured with the presence of former President of Ireland Mary McAleese

Fifty-three Teaching Heroes from twenty-seven higher education institutions throughout Ireland were recognised yesterday at a special awards ceremony in Dublin Castle. 

The National Teaching Hero Awards were established by the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education in partnership with the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) and other student bodies to explore and celebrate students’ perspectives of great teaching throughout all higher education institutions.

Teachers were nominated by students and the fifty-three national award winners were selected by local student working groups which identified up to two teaching heroes from within their institution. The identification process used in each institution was informed by guidelines that focused on merit and learning impact.

According to organisers, the teaching hero award is the first of its kind in higher education in Ireland. 

Professor Sarah Moore, Chair of the National Forum, said that “outstanding teaching often happens quietly under the radar. With all our commitments to improvement and developing teaching and learning, these awards aim to shed more light on the kinds of teaching that students say they value most. This first iteration of the awards process showcases some great examples of teaching and will give rise to important conversations about students own perspectives on their learning.”

National Forum Patron and former President of Ireland, Professor Mary McAleese, pointed to the importance of awards such as these in recognising the deeper societal significance of excellent teaching. “Excellence in teaching is about much more than simply getting students through their exams,” she said. “It is about inspiration, passion, generosity of spirit, and a genuine desire to make a positive difference to students’ lives.” 

Laura Harmon, USI President, said: “Like everyone in this room I have great teachers to be thankful for, this is a marvellous opportunity for students all around Ireland to put that thanks on the record.”

Minister for Education and Skills, Ms Jan O’Sullivan TD, looked forward to the awards becoming an integral part of the teaching and education calendar. “Any celebration of excellence is worthwhile and to be welcomed but these innovative awards are doubly so in that they not only recognise marvellous teachers but give their students a voice in that process at the same time.”

A full list of the 2014 Teaching Heroes can be found by clicking on the following link: