Gratnells names Science Technician of the Year 2021

Gratnells names Science Technician of the Year 2021

The Gratnells Science Technician of the Year Award 2021 has been awarded to Emilia Angelillo from Sancton Wood School in Cambridge. 

The competition, now in its thirteenth year, celebrates the hard work of Science Technicians working in Education all over the world. The individuals in the independent judging panel, made up of esteemed industry professionals and including a previous STOTY winner, were once again impressed by the high quality of entries and enjoyed learning more about the applicants.

First place winner Emilia has been a Science Technician for 6 years and is the only Technician supporting the science department at her school, with two prep rooms to maintain. She provides support for all age groups from primary to secondary over four labs. She also runs two primary STEM clubs and plans to invest her prizes back into these groups and the other students at her school. She is very grateful to have a good relationship with the teaching team in her department and they often do practical demonstrations in the science labs together.

In addition to her hard work during school hours, Emilia is also an extremely active STEM Ambassador, running free workshops outside of her school to inspire children around the country and all over the world. During the pandemic, she took her workshops online and was able to reach many different countries including India and Bangladesh. In 2021 alone, she has completed 77 workshops over 87 hours reaching 5,185 participants.

Emilia is also very active on social media and uses her platform to reach and inspire people far and wide, and delivers exciting practical science demonstrations to her 16,000 Instagram followers. She is also an advocate for women in STEM and diversity in science and often uses her profile to highlight this. Her public profile allows her to show how exciting science can be and allows her to reach a much wider audience than in the classroom, making science accessible for everyone.

Emilia is hugely passionate about her work and hopes to make a real difference and wants to encourage scientists of the future. With a background in microbiology, she hopes to use her experience to inspire children to explore careers in science and the opportunities available to them.

Emilia commented:

“I feel incredibly honoured to receive the Gratnells Award for Science Technician of the year 2021. I hope that with my work I can inspire young people to pursue their dreams and nurture their passion for what they love most. My dream was to wear the lab coat and work in the lab, and this is what I have done all my life. I hope I can show how beautiful, fun and amazing science is. I am very proud to be a lab technician and honoured to be part of the pupils' education. I hope I can show what great resource science technicians are for schools and colleges. We can do so many things, not only in the prep room, but also in classrooms as demonstrators, STEM ambassadors, STEM club leaders, and much more.”

Thank you to my school for always supporting me, especially the great science team which is a second family for me. Above all, thank you to our students. Their enthusiasm keeps me going, and it is for them that everything is done.“

Mr. Richard Settle, Principal of Sancton Wood School said:


“The whole Sancton Wood community is delighted for Emilia; it is quite right that she has won this award because she is a wonderfully dedicated member of our team.  She is passionate about science and works tirelessly across all our sites to ensure that the children have the best experience of science.  In addition, to support in lessons, she leads a number of enrichment clubs and works with other students online and in our labs.  She is a credit to her profession.”

This year’s International prize has been awarded to Neema Saleem of Qatar Academy Sidra in Qatar. A previous winner in 2018, Neema has used her award to successfully establish new initiatives in her school. She has set up a technicians’ network for schools across the Qatar Foundation, using her industry skills to support others with CPD. In addition to her daily duties, two years ago she founded the school’s Science and Sustainability club which has become a flagship programme and a core to the school’s sustainability mission, raising funds for charity and hosting events for the local community. She hopes to use her win to improve practical science work across Qatar and plans to start an association for Lab Technicians providing online CPD and video experiments on YouTube. 

Dr. Carolyn Parker, School Director at Qatar Academy Sidra said:

                “Congratulations! This is great news. Well deserved.”

Vanda Rajewski and the team of Technicians at Sutton High School in Surrey take away this year’s award for winning team. With 34 years of combined experience, the team of 5 work across all three sciences, DT and Art. The judging panel particularly recognised the team’s work over STEM week, which included a STEM fair, as they involved local Primary schools and overcame COVID challenges. Vanda actively works with the 25 schools in their trust to establish a technician’s network and is looking forward to introducing some face-to-face events. Vanda, along with Catherine Page, Lucrezia Bruno, Yuichiro Kikuma and Ian Malhotra, are a very active team of incredibly skilled individuals and are committed to their own professional development.

Sutton High School commented:

“Sutton High are very proud of their STEAM technician team and this win is well deserved.  This shows they are an integral part of our school and without them we could not teach to the high level we do. “

This year’s runner up is Sandrine Bouchelkia of St Paul's Way Trust School in London. Sandrine has been a dedicated technician for 24 years. She was recognised by the judges as being a skilled and committed Technician and Team Leader and for her contribution to the role both at school and beyond. Sandrine provided support to families at home during the pandemic, helps to lead the regional technicians’ network and regularly takes part in additional CPD activities.

Mr Phil Akerman, Executive Headteacher at St Paul's Way Trust School said:

“St Paul's Way Trust School places a strong emphasis on Science Education and we fully support our Patron, Professor Brian Cox, in saying ‘Britain is the best place to do Science’. To make that a reality we need a fabulous technician team and that is exactly what we have here at St Paul's Way Trust School. Sandrine’s leadership of technical services in science education is first class and we are proud of all she has achieved.”

The third-place winner for 2021 is Rachel Gibson of Coombe Dean School in Plymouth. She has spent 4 years as a Science Technician and is fully committed to having a positive impact on young people’s enjoyment of science. During the pandemic, she created home experiment packs that could be sent home to pupils to allow them to continue practical science while learning at home. She’s also part of a local technician’s network, runs the school Science Club and has recently started training and supervising the new apprentice.

K. Dyke, Headmaster at Coombe Dean School commented:

“Brilliant! It’s wonderful to see Rachel's effort and impact recognised in this way. She is the beating heart of the science community here at Coombe Dean School.”

This year, we are also presenting two ‘special recognition’ awards. Christopher Rees of Tudor Grange Academy in Worcestershire is a Senior Science Technician with 8 years of experience. The judges made particular reference to his creativity, his support of 4-school MAT and his work for the Duke of Edinburgh. Sharon Nicholson is Head Technician at Notley High School and Braintree 6th Form in Braintree. With 10 years of experience, Sharon was recognised for her strong leadership skills and her supportive nature. She is always keen to learn and train and has transformed technical and practical work provision in her department.

Christopher Rees of Tudor Grange Academy said:

“Thank you Gratnells for choosing me for this award. I know all Science Technicians work hard to make science lessons fun and memorable for the kids and awards like this are real boosts for us and help promote what we can do to make a difference.”

Sarah Luxon, Director of Science at Notley High School and Braintree 6th Form commented:

“Sharon has been instrumental in helping our department become successful, where students want to engage and learn Science again after 18 months of limited practicals. I’m immensely proud of her and the hard work she puts in for the staff and students, we would be lost without her.”

Thank you to everyone who entered this year’s Science Technician of Year Awards. As always, the standard of applications was extremely high and we were honoured to get an insight into the hard work of many school Science Technicians from all around the world. We extend our thanks to the independent judging panel for their hard work and time dedicated to supporting the Gratnells Science Technician of the Year Awards.

Judge’s comments

Dr. Katherine Forsey said:

“The Gratnells Science Technician of the Year Awards showcase the very best UK and International technical talent. Science technicians are the leaders of school practical work provision, enabling children to develop essential skills, enriching their science knowledge and providing the spark that inspires many into further study and STEM careers.

The judging panel was humbled and inspired by the quality of the short-listed applicants this year and highly commends the impact each one is having in their own school and beyond.

Our 2021 winners exemplify the profession, giving freely of their skills and experience to support not only students in their own schools, but teachers, technical colleagues and students across the world. We are fortunate to have them in our schools, our children are fortunate to have them as role models and the field science is better equipped to find solutions to future challenges because of them.”

Paul Cook commented:

“Once again it was a pleasure and a privilege to be on the Gratnells STOTY judging panel. The applications for this award are of an exceptionally high standard and this year was no exception, it was a joy to read through them. It is fantastic that Gratnells continue to offer the opportunity for the outstanding work of Science Technicians to be recognised through the STOTY awards.

Even in the midst of very challenging times all the entries showed how the work Technicians do can still shine through!!

There were so many examples of amazing innovative projects and initiatives where Technicians have gone above and beyond the role, leading to a lasting student impact for an interest in science not only inside their school but beyond into the community and in some instances nationally and internationally too. Doing their part in helping to ensure there is a whole new generation of young scientists.”

Chris Galvin said:

“Once again it was a privilege to be on the judging panel for this year’s STOTY. The enthusiasm for science and the keenness to share that enthusiasm by all those shortlisted was incredible and heart-warming to see. All of the winners showed that being a technician isn’t just about preparing lessons but also sharing knowledge and experience far and wide, with students, other technicians and the wider public. They have shown that a simple idea can turn into something incredible and that collaboration with other departments can benefit the whole school. They have shown that technicians can be an inspiration to young people, can lead change where needed and can raise the profile of technician colleagues on a national level.

All shortlisted technicians should be as proud of themselves as we are and I’d like to personally thank everyone who took part in this wonderful event for the incredible work they do on a daily basis to support school science and each other.”

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