Where do you start? It’s been over six months since the evening Shrubland Street won the award and the glow of pride still exudes from the monolith sitting in our school. It sits like a beacon reminding all the staff and myself that we are here to constantly adapt our practice to inspire and engage our pupils. When motivation wanes or day-to-day paperwork can seem a grind, the thought of that wonderful evening celebrating all that is great about our profession bolsters our spirits.
I remember opening the envelope listing shortlisted schools and immediately informing staff and making it clear we would all go to the event to celebrate what we do well. Of course, we were just glad to be shortlisted (as all schools would say, but over 25 years playing competitive sport meant that deep inside, part of me wanted our school to win).
Preparations and the booking of tables were underway, with all staff invited to attend because everyone – from governors to lunchtime supervisors, office staff, TAs and teachers – contributes to the team at our school. An excitement buzzed through school. Even before the awards evening, staff felt that they were being recognised and valued beyond school. As a consequence we could see a growing pride in everything going on.
'Like winning the cup final'
The actual announcement that we had won was unbelievable. All I remember is cheering like we had won the cup final, and all pre-prepared dignity evaporated as the award was received from host Greg Davies. I remember returning to the table to a proud team, giggling and celebrating like the children we teach when they realise they are winners. The next day, finding out that our cheerleaders had become national champions, and returning back to a proud school was a blur, which lasted over the following week.
When reflecting on why we won, I can only put it down to our coordinated approach. Over the years, a balanced programme has been developed to ensure access for all in sport, blended with competitive opportunities at all levels. Over time this has been linked to Tesco healthy eating programmes and our own extensive programme of healthy lifestyles, sports and activities which involve all children and the community. All of this is delivered in a small Victorian school with no green space, just a playground, walled on all sides. We pride ourselves in proving any problem can be overcome. We just didn’t realise others would recognise our achievements as well. We now are looking at working with other schools developing "real" PE alongside traditional sports so children of all abilities can develop active lifestyles and skills even if they don’t like the traditional sporting avenues available.
The knock-on effect of winning has been a refreshed drive for innovation flowing through all areas of the curriculum across all subjects. Rather than looking back and thinking: “Didn’t we do well?” the mantra is: “How can we be better? How can we ensure our children continue to be inspired and engaged to excel in everything we do?”
David Farrar is the headteacher and leads the active lifestyles programme at Shrubland Street Primary School
For a full list of this year's categories and to enter, visit the awards website. Entries close at midnight on Sunday 6 March 2016.
The winners will be announced at a ceremony at the Grosvenor House hotel in London on Friday 24 June 2016.
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