TES 2009 Schools Awards results
The TES Schools Awards for England and Wales recognise outstanding innovation. Here are this year's winners:
Outstanding Personalised Learning Initiative
The winner: Maltby Crags Infant School, South Yorkshre
Children are taught according to their needs and interests and not their age at this infants school. In a Year 2 class, a gifted boy is learning Latin alongside children who are two years behind their chronological age. Children are consulted about the curriculum: one of the thinking skills courses uses themes from popular culture such as Sponge Bob and Doctor Who.
Judges’ verdict: “The school has sharpened the principles of assessment for learning to make a powerful tool. It is demonstrably successful with vulnerable children.” They also spoke of a deprived school that had transformed itself and praised the self-assessment, peer marking and mentoring programmes.
Outstanding Staff Training/Develoment Initiative
The winner: Challney High School for Boys and Community College, Bedfordshire
Everyone at Challney High is a trainer. Pupils, teaching assistants, senior management and experienced teachers all contribute to the training programme, with pupils taking part in staff training days so that teachers can learn from their views. The use of an electronic e-portfolio to monitor, assess and develop teacher training has revolutionised the way that trainees and staff can record their progress.
Judges’ verdict: “Challney is setting the highest possible standards for staff development. They have a tremendous commitment to working with teachers outside their school. The range of CPD opportunities and strategies is excellent and the school should be commended for its approach and achievements.”
Best E-learning Initiative
The winner: Evelyn Street Community Primary School, Cheshire
Most schools have to grapple with the challenge of engaging boys. Evelyn Street Primary, in a deprived ward near Warrington town centre, is using hand-held computers to encourage their interest in learning. The school began by giving junior boys a computer to take home. After they had done their homework, they could access games and websites controlled by the school’s ICT technician. For a small charge, families were also able to use the computers, except when pupils were in school. The aim was to encourage parental support for education.
Judges’ verdict: “This is a very exciting project which appears to have had an increasing impact on the pupils and the community.” The judges also liked the way in which the project was supporting home-school links and the school’s use of ICT to enhance the enjoyment of learning.
Outstanding Literacy Initiative
The winner: Ellis Guilford School and Sports College, Nottingham
Nearly a fifth of children leaving primary school are below the expected level in reading. In some schools the figure is much higher. At Ellis Guilford, between 35 and 40 per cent of children entering Year 7 fall into this category. The 11-16 school does more than accelerate their progress; it persuades many of them to read for pleasure. The learning resource centre runs programmes, such as Mega Read and Book Café, that offer personalised help to pupils. Mad Manga Mondays are designed to appeal to boys who are hard to reach, while gifted and talented pupils tackle the Carnegie Medal book award shortlist.
Judges’ verdict: “There is a brilliant range of activities that encourages a really diverse range of routes into reading.” They spoke of the school’s “sheer energy and super ideas”.
Outstanding Numeracy Initiative
The winner: Moredon Primary and Nursery School, Swindon
A numeracy co-ordinator’s research into problem-solving has brought higher Sats scores to this school. Children are given the opportunity to solve problems and show off what they can do with the help of a working wall. Strategies from the calculation policy are displayed on the wall and pupils discuss how to proceed. The programme is for Year 1 and Year 5 so that the impact on Sats can be measured. Teachers set targets for September following the end-of-year tests.The result? Children are more confident and test scores have improved.
Judges’ verdict: “The school has made excellent moves to take forward a number of strategies and to build on research on developments in numeracy. The strategies used to build up the problem-solving and team-working skills of the pupils are a useful co-product.”
Outstanding Special Needs Initiative
The winner: Beacon Hill Special School and Business and Enterprise College, Tyne and Wear
This new special school for pupils aged three to 19 who have severe, profound and multiple learning difficulties and autism has concentrated on encouraging independent travel. Most of its pupils come to school by taxi so they do not know how to use public transport or how to cross the road safely. Beacon Hill has its own travel training facility, with real traffic lights and pelican and zebra crossings across the car park. All the special schools and five colleges in Tyne
Judges’ verdict: Beacon Hill was a clear winner because of its innovative approach in the important field of autism. They said: “The independent travel training facility is a wonderful initiative, promoting independence for all students. The focus on skills for life throughout the school is admirable.”
Outstanding Sporting Initiative
The winner: Wright Robinson College, Manchester
A 10-year partnership between this college and Manchester Metropolitan University shows that physically active pupils get higher grades at GCSE than those who are less active. A longitudinal research project found that 62 per cent of physically active pupils achieved five or more top-grade GCSE grades, including maths and English, compared with 38 per cent of those who were less active.
The research has enabled staff to target pupils. One project focused on girls who lacked confidence. It built up to a weekend where they were encouraged to take part in outdoor activities. Another aimed to engage low-achieving boys.
Judges’ verdict: The good partnership between the school and the university was noted. They said: “The university acts as an excellent prefect.” They said the research provided long-term, serious evidence and praised the involvement of disaffected pupils.
Outstanding New or Refurbished Primary School
The winner: Forest Way School, Leicestershire
This 136-pupils special school is in the National Forest. Natural and sustainable materials have been used for its new building wherever possible. The floor looks like a river and the lower part of the walls like grass. At the centre of the school, oak trees appear to drape themselves over a woodland floor and the children activate the sound of birdsong and water as they move.
Judges’ verdict: “The building has flair, imagination, functionality,” they said. “This outstanding project combines a range of aesthetics with a brilliant choice of materials.” They were delighted with this “very special school” and praised the “massive child and parent involvement”.
Outstanding New or Refurbished Secondary School
The winner: Forest Way School, Leicestershire
Buildings and curriculum work together at the academy to provide an atmosphere that visitors say is like a university. Nearly 1,500 pupils are split into four mini-schools where they study the core subjects of maths, English, humanities, modern foreign languages and information technology. Each college also takes responsibility for two or three subjects that it franchises out to others. The distance between the colleges is never more than a two-minute walk.
Judges’ verdict: “The scope and design of the academy are impressive. This is an outstanding, functional environment. The college is a very coherent building that maximises the use of space and creates an excellent learning environment and sense of community.”
Outstanding Sustainable School
The winner: Turners Hill Primary School, West Sussex
Turners Hill had an environmental education programme 18 years ago, long before most others recognised its importance. The school has two wind turbines, photovoltaic panels and has planted 1,750 trees on a three-acre site by the school. In citizenship lessons, pupils are taught about switching off appliances, and an eco committee monitors this. Wind turbine and solar panel monitors take regular readings of the energy created and display them. Every class has a blue recycling box.
Judges’ verdict: “This is a good initiative that seems achievable for all. The school wants to share its ideas in an altruistic way.” The judges praised the school for its consistent support for environment education for many years and its excellent teaching and outside classroom use.
Best School Dinners
The winner: St Aidan’s Church of England High School, North Yorkshire
The school employs a 20-strong catering team and 85 per cent of pupils eat school lunches. There are three professional chefs and a baker. Year 7 pupils have a separate dining hall while sixth formers can use an all-day café.
Judges’ verdict: “Very exciting. We liked the clear and, therefore, sustainable business approach. It breaks down some of the individual barriers.”
Special mention: Abbey Manor College, Lee Green, south-east London. The judges said: “Very impressive; a PRU with 60 students doing NVQs.” The judges particularly liked the way in which catering was integrated into the curriculum.
Outstanding Community Involvement Initiative
The winner: Drove Primary School, Swindon
Language is the starting point for the success of this multicultural school, which takes children from more than 33 communities and where 27 languages are spoken. Seventy nine per cent of pupils do not have English as a first language, and in some classes 11
languages are spoken.
Drove Primary works with other schools in Swindon that lack experience of black and ethnic minority families but who have recently begun to receive them. Its outreach service to Swindon schools covers 13 languages and tries to help children feel comfortable in their new setting. It also runs a crisis service for children who become distressed while at school, and a Saturday language school for 90 children from across the town.
Judges’ verdict: The school is making a profound difference, they said. They were impressed by the “excellent bilingual outreach service and crisis response”. They praised its outward-looking approach and its provision for pupils whose first language is not English.
Outstanding Leadership Team
The winner: The Duston School, Northampton
Until May last year, Duston was known as the school that had kept its “failing” label for longer than any other – more than seven years. Now that’s all changed: Ofsted described it as a “rapidly improving school” with “outstanding and decisive leadership”.The current leadership team has turned the secondary school around by using new strategies to engage teachers and developing an excellent CPD programme.
Judges’ verdict: Remarking on the school’s “huge progress”, the judges said: “There is a tangible sense of achievement and pride. The school is a powerful example of teamwork and proves what can be achieved by a committed, hard-working team.”
Primary School of the Year
The winner: Caedmon Primary School, Cleveland
Teachers at Caedmon Primary have tackled the challenge of engaging the community and banishing racial prejudice with vigour and determination. The school serves a deprived area near Middlesbrough that is almost exclusively white. In the past, families from other ethnic groups have been hounded out. Caedmon Primary responded by setting up international school partnerships and giving every part of the curriculum an international dimension.
Judges’ verdict: Caedmon Primary is “a truly community-based school with great achievements. It has an impressive range of partnerships, including an international dimension. The fact that it has become such an outstanding school following the amalgamation of two schools is a tremendous achievement. The development of school-parent-local community relations as part of the extended school has been first rate.”
Special mention: Whitehill Junior School, Hitchin, Hertfordshire
Judges’ verdict: “This school is developing on so many fronts and making a huge drive forward in all of them. So many initiatives are all followed through to ensure an impact on student achievement.”
Secondary School of the Year
The winner: Denbigh High School, Luton
This 11-16 comprehensive and specialist sports college, where 89 per cent of pupils have a first language other than English, is remarkable for the way it uses sport to raise achievement. It is constantly looking for new ways of engaging its most difficult pupils through curriculum innovations.
In September last year, it started a sports academy for key stage 4 pupils who are disillusioned with school. In addition to playing plenty of sport, they also focus on improving their literacy and numeracy and study for Btec awards. Every pupil follows a course to develop leadership. They organise sports festivals for primary schools and are trained to coach younger pupils.
Judges’ verdict: “The school has continued to sustain improvement over many years: no mean feat. What was particularly impressive was the use of sport and physical activity to raise achievement and the curriculum to develop leadership capacity. There was outstanding work in academic mentoring and promoting students’ development through a personalised approach.”