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Awards - Winner Outstanding New or Refurbished Secondary

Leigh Technology Academy, Kent

Leigh Technology Academy, Kent

What they did

Buildings and curriculum work together to provide an atmosphere that visitors say is just like a university. Almost 1,500 pupils are split into four mini schools, or "colleges", where pupils study the core subjects of maths, English, humanities, modern foreign languages and ICT.

Each college also takes responsibility for two or three subjects that it franchises out to other colleges. The distance between the colleges is never more than a two-minute walk. Inspectors said recently that this structure worked well and noted the pride and optimism shared by pupils, parents and staff.

Earlier this year, the school was nominated for an architecture award for making a "substantial contribution to the local environment".

It is also incredibly energy efficient, with tubes under the floor of the school that draw in air coming into the building and heat or cool it, depending on the time of year, and then pump it out again, reducing the need for central heating.

What the judges said

The judges praised the innovative design. They said: "The scope and design 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."

You could do it, too

Buildings in this category offered a host of additional features beyond simple school premises. One included sensory rooms, adventure equipment and an independent living unit; others involved pupils and parents in the new building design. One secondary school was one of the first to pilot a new, openly located unisex toilet.

About the awards

The TES Schools Awards, or TESSAs, celebrate and reward the professionalism and flair of teams making an outstanding contribution to primary and secondary schools in the maintained and independent sectors. This year's event attracted hundreds of entries and the panel of judges was impressed by their range and quality. Next year's TESSAs will be held at the Grosvenor House Hotel on June 17, 2010, and are open for entries at www.tes.co.ukawards.

Each week we profile one of this year's winners. For more details on entering the 2010 TES Schools Awards visit www.tes.co.ukawards.

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