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Media Release

Innovative educators reel in results with salmon farming and other smart ideas

Innovative educators reel in results

The Commonwealth Bank Teaching Awards are Australia's most prestigious prizes for educators.

Salmon farming isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think of cutting edge education, though according to Tasmanian school teacher Steve Harrison, it’s proving to be a successful lure to getting better outcomes for his students.

Working with the local salmon industry, Mr Harrison has developed a vocational training program that has helped to deliver more than 30 jobs for students and has led to greater school completion rates for his community.

Mr Harrison is one of twelve teachers and principals from across Australia awarded a teaching fellowship at a ceremony in Sydney today as part of the 2018 Commonwealth Bank Teaching Awards.

The award recipients were chosen from more than 400 education professionals who nominated.

This year’s Teaching Fellows include:

  • a teacher who moved from London to work in Arnhem Land and now leads a school in Katherine in the Northern Territory
  • a principal designing an innovative ‘no halls, no walls’ school in Ballina in northern NSW.
  • a principal from the Melbourne suburb of Glenroy turning his school into a community hub, which is  improving student outcomes.

"The teachers whom we recognise through these awards inspire their colleagues and the broader Australian community. We are delighted to recognise their creativity and passion, to amplify their unique stories, and to help them invest more in their ideas for the benefit of Australia's children," Commonwealth Bank Chief Executive Officer Ian Narev said.

The awards are co-presented with Schools Plus, a specialist education not-for-profit organisation.

Schools Plus CEO Rosemary Conn said the 12 new Teaching Fellows were changing the lives of thousands of Australian students through their creative and inspiring approaches to education.

“These extraordinary educators work in schools in vastly different communities but they share one view – that every child, no matter their background, has the ability to succeed,” Ms Conn said.

“By putting a spotlight on the incredible achievements of the Fellows, we hope their work will also inspire and influence teachers in classrooms right across Australia.”

The Commonwealth Bank Teaching Awards is Australia’s most prestigious prize for educators, with each Fellow receiving a $45,000 grant to assist with their professional development, roll out a new education project in their school, and take part in an overseas study tour to a high-performing education system.   

Through a partnership between Schools Plus and the Varkey Foundation, the Teaching Fellows are also invited to apply for the Global Teacher Prize, which is valued at $US1 million. Three of the 2017 Teaching Award recipients were shortlisted in the Top 50 for this year’s Global Teacher Prize.

The 2018 Teaching Fellows include:

  • Ann Caro – Lithgow High School, NSW
  • Greg McMahon – Doveton College, VIC
  • Janeen Silcock – Ballina Coast High School, NSW
  • John Cleary – Casuarina Street Primary School, NT
  • John Goh – Merrylands East Public School, NSW
  • Kerry White – Holy Family Catholic School, SA
  • Matthew Eyles – Hobart College, TAS
  • Paul Kenna – Belle Vue Park Primary School, VIC
  • Peter Gurrier-Jones – The Hills School, NSW
  • Stacey Quince – Campbelltown Performing Arts High School, NSW
  • Steve Harrison – Huonville High School, TAS
  • Yasodai Selvakumaran – Rooty Hill High School, NSW

For more information on the Commonwealth Bank Teaching Awards visit


About The Commonwealth Bank Teaching Awards

The Commonwealth Bank Teaching Awards are run in partnership with Schools Plus, a not-for-profit organisation, which was established in 2013 to increase philanthropy for schools that most need support. Launched in 2016, the Awards are run annually to recognise and reward 12 teachers across Australia with a $45,000 Teaching Fellowship. The majority of the recipients are teachers or school leaders working in schools in disadvantaged communities.

The Awards form part of Commonwealth Bank’s 25-year commitment to improving Australian education and helping children gain the skills they need for future success. They recognise the crucial role that great teachers play in helping children reach their potential. By celebrating the achievements of great teachers, Commonwealth Bank hopes to elevate the teaching profession and inspire Australian teachers.

About Schools Plus

Schools Plus is a national charity that delivers high-impact philanthropic support for schools in disadvantaged communities, to give students the opportunities they need to fulfil their potential. It was established in 2013, bringing to life a recommendation in the 2011 Review of Funding for Schooling (Gonski Review). More than 4,600 schools across Australia are eligible for tax-deductible donations through Schools Plus.