1. ITV Report

Teesside teacher shortlisted for 'Nobel Prize for teaching'

Dr Richard Spencer of Middlesbrough College in Teesside. Photo: Apollo Strategic Communications/PA Wire

A teacher in Teesside has been shortlisted for an award that is being dubbed the 'Nobel Prize for teaching'.

Dr Richard Spencer, known to students as 'Doc', is among 10 nominees from around the world who could be in line to win the first ever Varkey Gems Foundation Global Teacher Prize.

The winner will get $1 million (around £630,000) paid over 10 years in recognition of his or her outstanding contribution to the profession.

Dr Spencer has already won numerous awards for his innovative approach to teaching biology which includes using experiments, videos, models, role play, games, poems, songs and dance in lessons.

Dr Richard Spencer meets Pope Francis at the Vatican in Rome. Credit: Apollo Strategic Communications/PA Wire

Dr Spencer trained as a secondary school biology teacher after completing a PhD in Molecular Biology and becoming a post-doctoral researcher.

It was announced at the end of last year that Dr Spencer was one of two UK teachers to make the longlist of 50 potential winners.

"I read all 50 profiles and with each one I thought 'That's amazing'," he said.

Dr Spencer said he had learnt he had made the final 10 during a visit with two other finalists to meet Pope Francis at the Vatican last week.

The three had been invited to meet the Pope to tell him about their experiences in teaching.

Dr Richard Spencer being made an MBE by the Prince of Wales in 2010. Credit: Johnny Green/PA

He said he had been with fellow prize candidate Stephen Ritz from the Bronx, New York, when they were informed they were both in the final 10.

"We looked at each other and our jaws hit the ground," Dr Spencer said.

"It was a real 'wow' moment."

He added: "I felt like I'd won a prize going to the Vatican, especially because I'm Catholic as well."

The winner of the first Varkey Gems Foundation Global Teacher Prize will be announced next month.