Tes Awards 2020: Headteacher of the year winner

A decisive leader who transformed her school: Evelyn Forde is named headteacher of the year
13th November 2020, 8:33pm

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Tes Awards 2020: Headteacher of the year winner

https://www.tes.com/magazine/archive/tes-awards-2020-headteacher-year-winner
Headteacher Of The Year

The Tes School Awards judges are not the first to notice this school leader: in May 2018, Ofsted said that Evelyn Forde's "decisive leadership" had "transformed the school".

Ms Forde is headteacher of Copthall School, a girls' secondary in Barnet which, in January 2016, was rated as requiring improvement as its outcomes, reputation and pupil numbers plummeted.

Only two years later, after Ms Forde took the helm, the school was awarded a "good" rating, and Copthall has been in the top 4 per cent of schools nationally for progress at GCSE for the past 3 years, and the top 1.5 per cent in the 2018-19 academic year.

Progress at sixth form has been significantly above the national average, too, with stand-out progress among disadvantaged students. A STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) scholarship programme and  an Oxbridge programme have now become available to students.

Beyond results, Ms Forde has been tireless in promoting her school and being a positive role model, for example, by climbing Snowdon to raise money for Copthall and raise awareness of the important issue of school funding. She is also a mentor to other black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) teachers struggling for promotion and has brought the issue of BAME under-representation to the national press.

The most moving tribute to her leadership comes from an email from a former student, who wrote to her proposing a plan to organise volunteers to help with the Covid crisis.

The email reads: "Parents, teachers and students alike will be grateful to have a figure like you in charge at this time...your hard work will always be appreciated and everyone is grateful to have you as an amazing leader.

"Everyone sometimes needs a little encouragement from the supporters on the sidelines and you have been supporting me throughout my journey, and so it is only fair that I return the favour."

Lead judge Dame Joan McVittie said at the judging session that this was the strongest cohort of nominations she had seen in seven years, but Ms Forde stood out.

She said: "The quality and quantity of entries for the headteacher award were exceptionally high. This made judging very challenging and the final winner is well deserving."

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