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.
The Design and Technologies Teachers’ Association (DATTA) of Australia has recognised Simon for his contributions to teacher professional learning, competitions for students, programmes that encourage opportunity and interest in the subject. He had previously won the State Award.
Some of Simon’s achievements include initiating the use of Arduino Unos and Nanos (open-source electronics platforms) 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.”
Born and raised in the United Kingdom, Simon started his career as a designer craftsman, making one-off furniture pieces 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, where he found himself for the next 16 years “trying to teach welding to prime ministers’ children and royalty!”
When a job offer came up at Hale School eight years ago, Simon moved to Australia and hasn’t looked back. He now encourages his students to construct complex problems and then find creative solutions to them. His students who have continued their engineering studies at university have found that they are ahead of their peers due to this pragmatic approach.