Sunderland headteacher nominated for top award

12 June 2024

People are being encouraged to nominate their Teacher of the Year in a national competition with £1250 in Sunderland Gift Cards as a possible prize. The teacher with the most nominations will be crowned as Teacher of the Year.

A Sunderland headteacher has been nominated in a national Teacher of the Year competition, led by Miconex and sponsored by group collecting platform GiftRound, with £1250 in Sunderland Gift Cards as a possible prize.

The Sunderland Gift Card is led by Sunderland BID and can be spent with 195 local businesses, including shops, restaurants and attractions, giving people an easy way to support local.

Claire McKinney, headteacher at Richard Avenue Primary School was nominated for the accolade by parent Lucy Richards who said:

“Sunderland is a multi-cultural community and Miss McKinney embraces this diversity and welcomes everyone, including hosting a number of events out of school time which bring the community together, such as a recent Ramadan event. These events, and Miss McKinney’s approach, work wonders to develop an inclusive environment and help different groups to learn about and understand each other.

“This approach extends to school too where Miss McKinney has created a child-centred environment which balances the demands of the curriculum with lots of fun activities for the children. It’s a happy school and Miss McKinney ensures there are lots of extra activities such as trips and visitors to school, without charge to parents, which I’m sure can’t always be easy to achieve.

“Miss McKinney leads the staff at Richard Avenue to share her ethos of being child-centred and bringing out the best in the children. All of the staff at Richard Avenue are great. My daughter always wants to go to school because she enjoys it so much.

“If you could imagine an ideal headteacher, it would be Miss McKinney. Despite having a very busy job, Miss McKinney always has time for people, remembers names and is genuinely interested in them and their lives. Miss McKinney’s approachability helps to remove some of the barriers that might usually exist in school or the wider community, and develops a friendly and welcoming environment for all.

“The Sunderland Gift Card is a fantastic prize and I’m sure Miss McKinney could do a huge amount with it, for the community and for the school and its pupils.”

Claire McKinney commented: “It's a very special community here at Richard Avenue and a great privilege to be Head Teacher. We have an incredibly dedicated team who are continually aware of the importance of the role we hold in the lives of the children. They are driven and ambitious, and a great group to work alongside. School governors bring warmth, humility and ambition, and together with families, we form the best partnership between home and school, with the children at the centre.

“Moving to Richard Avenue in 2022, I quickly felt connected and spent time building on and growing crucial community links. This job means such a lot to me; the children mean such a lot. It's important. Our connections are important. A kind word of acknowledgement and time taken to welcome new families is our highest priority. In our school there is a place for everyone, and everyone has a place. On reading Lucy's very kind words, I am truly humbled and feel a great sense of pride, knowing the work we do is noticed and valued. Richard Avenue is a very special place.”

It is free for people to nominate their Teacher of the Year and all types of teachers are eligible including primary and secondary school teachers, headteachers, higher education teachers, early years teachers and special educational needs teachers in the UK. The Teacher of the Year competition runs until the 31st August 2024 and the winning teacher will be announced in September 2024.

The teacher who receives the most votes will be crowned as Teacher of the Year in the national competition. The Teacher of the Year, and their school, will each win a £500 Town & City Gift Card, such as the Sunderland Gift Card. One person who nominated the Teacher of the Year will also win a £250 local gift card.

Sharon Appleby is the Chief Executive of Sunderland BID and said: “This is a heartwarming story that demonstrates just how much impact our schools, teachers and headteachers have on not only pupils and families, but on our communities too. Congratulations to Miss McKinney and Richard Avenue for the nomination and please keep voting for your Teacher of the Year.”

Miconex’s local gift cards can be spent with local businesses, encouraging a ‘shop local’ ethos and locking spend into local economies.

Colin Munro is the managing director of Miconex and said: “As we approach the summer holidays, there’s never been a better time to show your thanks and appreciation for a special teacher. Every nomination in our Teacher of the Year competition counts as one vote for that teacher. Each person can only vote once for each teacher, but they can vote for multiple teachers.”

The Teacher of the Year competition is sponsored by group collecting platform GiftRound. Founded in 2018, GiftRound gives people an easy way to collect money for various occasions, including end of term gifts. Town & City Gift Cards are available to buy on the GiftRound store.

Craig Forsythe, CEO & founder at GiftRound, said: “We’re delighted to sponsor the Teacher of the Year competition so we can bring recognition to the many hard working teachers across the UK and Ireland. Teachers’ gifts are amongst the most popular collections on GiftRound so we know how appreciated teachers are by parents and children. We hope that people take this opportunity to nominate a teacher that has made a positive impact on their child’s education or their school community, and we look forward to celebrating with the winner of the Teacher of the Year in September.”

Nominate a teacher in the Teacher of the Year competition at