Former student in the hunt for Global Teacher Prize

David Swanston

Former student in the hunt for Global Teacher Prize

A former HND Sports Development student who studied at FVC’s old Falkirk Campus has been recognised in the prestigious Global Teacher Prize.

David Swanston (34) from Falkirk, studied for a HND in Sports Development at the old Falkirk College of Technology from 2002-2004, has been named in the top 50 finalists of the Varkey Foundation’s Global Teacher Prize.

More than 8,000 nominations and applications from across the world flooded in at the start of the Global Teacher Prize search and David is one of only two English based teachers to make it this far.

The first prize for the winner is £725,000 and if he wins, David will use the funds to support physical activity, horticulture and wellbeing programmes at the nearby Alder Hey Children’s Hospital. He would also seek to boost the development of inclusive ice hockey and blind hockey across the UK.

Hard work and an inspirational determination to teach, has seen David career’s take on a meteoric trajectory over the last 17 years to become the Deputy Principal of the St Vincent's School in Liverpool - A Specialist School for Sensory Impairment and Other Needs.

But he still cites the HND in Sports development as the “perfect course” to help him on the road to success and hopes to visit FVC soon to help encourage and inspire the next generation of sports students coming out of the college.

David, who is waiting to hear if he will make it into the Top Ten Finalists for the Global Teaching Prize, to be announced soon, said: “The HND I studied at the Falkirk Campus, was the perfect course to give me the foundation blocks to go into teaching and I would be happy to come into the college to speak with current students and give them the benefit of my experience.”

A former ice hockey player and coach, who remembers receiving strength and conditioning training from our very own Leisure Facilities Coordinator Wai Mun Lee in the College gym, David completed a BA in Secondary Physical Education at Liverpool John Moores University after leaving Falkirk in 2004, and then spent two further years teaching Physical Education across the Liverpool City Region.

He then took up a placement at the St Vincent’s School and found his real calling helping visually impaired pupils and then progressed to complete his qualification as a teacher of the visually impaired (MQTVI) at Birmingham University.

FVC’s Leisure Facilities Coordinator Wai Mun Lee, said: “I remember David very well and it was a pleasure to help him with his strength and conditioning training in the gym. The hard work and determination he showed in the gym has paid dividends to the attitude, hard work and commitment he has in striving for the successes he has achieved since leaving FVC. He has done fantastically well since leaving the College and I hope a visit from David as a guest speaker will be a great inspiration to  our current students, who will not only hear about his success, but about his time at FVC as a HND Sports Coaching & Development student.”

David has received a great deal of recognition for his work at St Vincent’s. In 2016 he was shortlisted for the Educate Awards Teacher of the Year & Outstanding Commitment to Sport in Secondary School. In 2019 he was an Educate Awards Winner for Innovation in Education, and in 2020 he was named Pearson's National Teaching Awards Gold Winner for Excellence in Special Needs Education.

Furthermore, many of his students have gone on to participate in further education, employment, Duke of Edinburgh Gold Awards and competition at the Paralympic Games.  

After several years developing the school’s physical education curriculum, David was invited to join its Senior Leadership Team to develop project-based learning and enriched curriculum ideas – and in 2020, he was appointed Deputy Principal.

Long term, he is passionate about further developing the SightBox project ( to improve access to adapted sport for students with a visual impairment in developing economies – as well as providing opportunities for international teacher placements, collaborations and school exchanges. 



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