A BRADFORD teacher who transformed his primary school through music has made the shortlist for the world teacher of the year award.

Jimmy Rotheram, music coordinator at Feversham Primary Academy in Bradford Moor, is one of three Brits on the 50 person shortlist for the Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize, which has prize money of $1 million.

The prize, now into its fifth year, was set up to recognise the exceptional teacher from around the world who has made an outstanding contribution to the profession.

Mr Rotheram is among 50 teachers from 39 countries who made the shortlist, after being selected from more than 10,000 nominations.

Since joining Feversham five years ago, Mr Rotheram helped to take the school from special measures to the top ten per cent of schools in England for progressing children’s learning in core subjects.

Children take part in three timetabled hours of music per week, with many taking part in extra-curricular music sessions as well. Music is also used to help children who speak English as a second language to develop and improve their English.

Mr Rotheram said he was “flabbergasted” to find out he had made the final 50.

He said: “It’s quite surreal at the moment, and just starting to sink in.

“Music is a sorely neglected subject in primary schools, it provides so many positives for children’s development and wellbeing.

“What drives me to do what I do is seeing the impact it is having at Feversham, and I want it for all children. We have a skills shortage, and I’m hoping this will empower for schools to invest in music.

“There has been a huge musical turnaround since I joined Feversham. When I started it was the typical school, one or two children singing in tune, and with many children coming from Muslim and Pakistani backgrounds, there is not that much singing at home.

“I believe everyone can be a musician if they have the right training and start early enough, and the children at Feversham went from having no training to a lot, with a minimum of three hours a week.

“There is now a a high level of musical literacy at the school, children can read, write and compose music and are confident improvising.

“The benefits are massive, especially for social and language development. Learning language and learning music use very similar parts of the brains, so by using simple songs it help children to develop their English.

“At Feversham we also have a number of autistic and selective mute children who won’t speak, but then come to music classes and sing their hearts out, it’s amazing to see.

“But it’s also heartbreaking to think how many other children are out there who do not have these opportunities or access to decent music education.”

The 50-person shortlist will be whittled down to ten finalists in February, with the winner announced at a ceremony in Dubai on March 24.

Sunny Varkey, founder of the Varkey Foundation and the Global Teacher Prize, said: “Congratulations to Jimmy for reaching the final 50.

“I hope his story inspires those looking to enter the teaching profession and highlights the incredible work teachers do all over the world every day.

“Our recent Global Teacher Status Index finally gives academic proof to something that we’ve always instinctively known: the link between the status of teachers in society and the performance of children in school.

“Now we can say beyond doubt that respecting teachers isn’t only an important moral duty - it’s essential for a country’s educational outcomes.”