There are many routes to educational success. Working hard and encouraging pupils to pursue their passions is one. Teaching them to knit is another. And placing them in a boxing ring is yet another.
All three are strategies that have been used to great effect by award-winners at tonight’s Tes Schools Awards.
At a chandelier-bedecked ceremony at the Grosvenor House hotel on London’s exclusive Park Lane, comedian Julian Clary addressed the nominees, praising their dedication and commitment to their profession.
And education secretary Justine Greening spoke in front of guests at the ceremony, before presenting the lifetime achievement award to Sine MacVicar, headteacher of Dunbeg Primary School in the town of Oban in the west of Scotland.
The award recognised the way that, during her 44 years at Dunbeg, Ms MacVicar has brought the school into the heart of the community: she regularly invites elderly members of the community into school, to be cooked for and entertained by pupils.
She is not the only award-winner to have taken an open-minded approach to what a school can do. The overall school of the year – Broadford Primary School, in East London – provides every pupil with opportunities to visit museums, galleries and sporting events. And it offers weekly Friday afternoon sessions in which pupils spend an hour learning a new skill, from knitting to a foreign language.
The judges’ choice of Broadford as school of the year was unanimous. “The school goes far beyond traditional expectations of education,” they said.
Staff at the early years setting of the year also recognised the importance of cultural experiences in children’s education. Everton Nursery School and Family Centre, in Liverpool, has not only received visits from Tate Liverpool artists, but has also hosted repeated visits from musicians from the Liverpool Philharmonic orchestra.
Five years ago, it would have seemed unlikely that staff from St Thomas the Apostle College, in south-east London, would be sitting at an awards dinner for schools of the year: in 2012, the boys’ school was the lowest-ranking secondary in its area.
In 2016, however, St Thomas the Apostle ranked 11th in the national league tables for Progress 8. In the intervening years, it had focused on supporting pupils as they pursued their passions. Tonight it received the secondary school of the year award.
The winner of the award for alternative provision school of the year also understood that where you come from is not necessarily an indication of where you will end up. Many of the pupils at The Boxing Academy in Hackney, East London, had been excluded for anti-social behaviour. But, by giving them a fresh start – coupled with time in the boxing ring – the school has allowed them to thrive.
The awards also recognised the achievements of individual headteachers, teachers and school departments.
The full list of winners:
Overall school of the year: Broadford Primary School, Romford, East London
Secondary school of the year: St Thomas the Apostle College, Nunhead, south-east London
Primary school of the year: Broadford Primary School, Romford, East London
Alternative provision school of the year: The Boxing Academy, Hackney, East London
Early years setting of the year: Everton Nursery School and Family Centre, Liverpool
Headteacher of the year: Alan Gray, Sandringham School, St Albans
Creative school of the year: Morecambe Bay Community Primary School, Morecambe
Maths teacher or team of the year: Alperton Community School, Wembley, north-west London
Science, technology and engineering teacher or team of the year: Larbert High School, Stenhousemuir
English teacher or team of the year: Dagenham Park Church of England School, Dagenham
Healthy school of the year: Farsley Farfield Primary School, Farsley, West Yorkshire
International award: Frances Olive Anderson Primary School, Lea, Lincolnshire
Digital innovation/ed-tech school of the year: Victoria Education Centre, Poole, Dorset
Bev Evans resource author of the year: timgoundry
Collaboration award: Parklands Primary School, Leeds
Community impact award: Manchester Communication Academy, Manchester
Lifetime achievement: Sine MacVicar, Dunbeg Primary School, Oban