2021 Teachers of Physics Award winners

Our Teachers of Physics awards celebrate the achievements of teachers in raising the profile of physics and science in schools across the UK.


Steve Dempsey 2021 IOP Teachers of Physics Award winner

Steve Dempsey

Turriff Academy, Turriff

Steve is an outstanding teacher who is passionate about his subject. His students frequently praise the quality of his lessons, appreciating his dedicated and caring approach. He makes skilled use of practical work, and he enhances the learning experience for students of all abilities. His lessons foster curiosity about science and physics, and he goes the extra mile to capture students’ imagination. He is actively involved in a range of extracurricular activities with pupils, leading school trips and other activities. Steve is very committed to helping colleagues, and his coaching of early career teachers has been invaluable. He has taken responsibility to lead the Physics Teacher Support Group in Aberdeenshire and provided outstanding service to its programme, as well as to other professional organisations.

Steve Essex 2021 IOP Teachers of Physics Award winner

Dr Steve Essex

Ernesford Grange Community Academy, Binley

Steve is an inspirational teacher who exudes a love of physics. His lessons always include a demonstration or practical work and link to real-world observations, developing students’ curiosity and fascination in the subject. He has fabulous relationships with students and has increased interest in the subject wherever he has taught. Steve has worked tirelessly to develop the science department to support the students, many of whom come from the most deprived backgrounds, and has broadened the school’s offering, introducing new qualifications catering for wider interests and prior attainments. Outside of the school he has worked with distinction across his academy trust and in numerous subject networks including the IOP, the Ogden Trust, the Prince’s Teaching Institute and STEM Learning, as well as being closely involved in Initial Teacher Education.

Lawrence Herklots 2021 IOP Teachers of Physics Award winner

Lawrence Herklots

King Edward VI School, Southampton 

Lawrence combines high intelligence, profound subject knowledge and genuine empathy for his students, opening up the wonders of physics to students for whom the subject is intimidating, doing this with clarity, humour and deep passion. Committed to developing the teachers around him, his entire faculty have thrived under his gentle but rigorous leadership. Lawrence initiated the bi-annual science festival at the school and has written and directed highly successful physics musicals. He and his sixth formers perform an innovative science roadshow in feeder schools, inspiring hundreds of younger students. He has been the senior examiner for physics A-level at an exam board for many years, recently acting as series editor for the course textbook and training teachers and examiners in the wider teaching community.

Sarah Hookway 2021 IOP Teachers of Physics Award winner

Sarah Hookway

Reepham High School and College, Reepham

Sarah is an exceptional teacher of physics, driven by a clear and obvious passion for the subject. She has worked with the IOP to make physics more attractive and accessible to all pupils, developed inclusive teaching strategies and led several whole-school inclusion initiatives. Authoritative and knowledgeable, she has developed her department with skill, nurturing both trainee and newly qualified teachers to achieve outstanding examination results. Sarah has made an unparalleled contribution to the school’s extracurricular life including organising an annual trip to CERN, bringing scientists into the classroom, running a science club, and providing regular astronomy evenings for the school and wider community. Sarah has been a leading practitioner providing subject specialist support to many local schools including primary schools and played an active role in local networks.

Edward Male 2021 IOP Teachers of Physics Award winner

Edward Male

Ysgol Harri Tudur, Pembroke

Edward is an inspirational and inventive teacher who uses his varied industrial experience to enrich physics lessons and after-school activities. He designs and builds much of the apparatus he uses to make the subject accessible to all and has earned the trust and respect of pupils through his exceptional commitment. Edward provides a wide range of extracurricular activities and has worked hard to improve gender balance within the subject and the school, working tirelessly to organise careers events and developing Science Capital work. Edward works closely with local schools, organising outreach events, and working with feeder schools. He is also an extremely active and highly valued member of the online community, both offering and supporting many professional development sessions.

Isabelle Parkes 2021 IOP Teachers of Physics Award winner

Dr Isabelle Parkes

The Arnewood School, New Milton

Isabelle is an outstanding teacher and practitioner whose love of physics and depth of understanding gives her a unique platform on which to ground her teaching. An inspirational teacher, she champions inclusive science education and her efforts have meant that girls now form a high proportion of A-level physics students at the school. She has a very natural and supportive way of working with teachers within the school science department, leading professional development and creating resources. Isabelle works closely with schools across the south of England, facilitating inter-school events, and creating hands-on physics opportunities for students. She shares her knowledge and skills widely, supporting the county school improvement services, speaking at conferences, writing articles and leading local teacher development networks.

Tom Tierney 2021 IOP Teachers of Physics Award winner

Tom Tierney

St Vincent's Castleknock College, Dublin

Tom is a caring, enthusiastic and very able teacher who makes physics accessible and enjoyable for all students, whatever their background, circumstance or ability, while achieving outstanding results in examinations and encouraging many to pursue the subject at university level. Tom organises many extracurricular activities for students, including an annual science festival, competitions, an environmental awareness programme, and science trips both nationally and internationally, expanding and developing students’ knowledge and curiosity. Tom works tirelessly to provide materials for the department and generously supports colleagues with his time and effort. Beyond the school Tom been very active with the Professional Development Service for Teachers providing numerous courses, workshops and an extremely successful online blog. He has written several physics revision books and collaborated on a textbook.