A global reputation and a papal visit could be yours

5th November 2010 at 00:00
The glamour and excitement of the TES Schools Awards is undeniable, but landing a Tessa is about so much more than the acclamation of your peers and a splendid trophy with which to wow pupils, parents and teachers alike.

With entries for the 2011 awards invited from today, it has emerged that winning the `Outstanding Primary' category last summer led to an audience with the Pope for Salford's St Thomas of Canterbury RC Primary School during his state visit.

School leaders at the three major category winners - primary, secondary and special needs - here tell of the extraordinary fallout for them and their schools. But there is no denying that St Thomas head David Deane's story stands out.

"Oona Stannard, the head of the Catholic Education Service, invited us to Twickenham to present a book to the Pope," he tells The TES.

However, picking up one of the prestigious gongs is far from easy. Keri Facer, professor of education at Manchester Metropolitan University and a judging panel member since the awards launched in 2009, said schools really have to prove that they have a team ethos.

"Today, more than ever, we need to reward these qualities," she says. "It is great to see a set of awards that celebrate real collaboration."


Outstanding Secondary School of the Year 2010

Brian Lally is the deputy head of St John Plessington Catholic College in the Wirral. Ofsted described the school as one "where exceptional things happen"; the judging panel agreed. Since winning a Tessa at this year's ceremony, Mr Lally says the journey to success continues.

"The plan is to have a year of celebration," he says. "One of the first things we did was buy a billboard in the area to announce it to the community and say `thank you' for making us the school of the year.

"It is a celebration, not just for pupils but for the carers, the social workers and the families who have had faith and supported us.

"We have had a banner made with the school name and the award on and have set the students the challenge to photograph themselves with it in as many exotic places as possible.

"So far it has been to the Great Wall of China, the Eiffel Tower and the Houses of Parliament. The point is to cement to the kids that the award is very significant and they are really taking pride in it.

"There is no doubt it is a big-platform accolade and the community appreciates the fact that we are being recognised on a national level.

"We think we have a story to tell, and we want to share it with other schools. Today is the first of two conferences we are running called `The Journey to School of the Year'. We have senior leaders from all over the UK coming to share our story."


Outstanding Special Needs School of the Year 2010

Maxine Pittaway is the head of St Christopher's School in Wrexham, which took the Tessa for Special Needs School of the Year.

The judges unanimously agreed that the standards for this category were "superb", but were particularly impressed with the school's ICT programs and its "ability to promote students' capacity with `entrepreneurism'".

Since its victory the school has been frequented by visitors as a resource of good practice.

"We have a lot of visitors, mainly teachers from other special schools, who come to us as a part of their professional development, to see what we are doing, as we set the example," says Ms Pittaway.

"It is a wonderful recognition to have of the school and I was really proud to receive the award. It is a reward for the whole team.

"The staff are very pleased and the chair of governors was over the moon when we won the award.

"Generally, for all people in contact with the school, it lets them know that their children are safe and being cared for. When placing vulnerable children you have to be careful of that.

"This year has been our tenth anniversary since moving to the new school site, so the trophy sitting in the foyer has made it even better. It is the icing on the cake of a very special year."


Outstanding Primary School of the Year 2010

David Deane is the head of St Thomas of Canterbury RC Primary School in Salford, Greater Manchester, which went from special measures to one of the most improved schools in England in just three years.

Since its moment in the Tessa limelight, Mr Deane has noticed a dramatic rise in the school's profile.

"Winning the award has taken us to another level," he says. "There have been a lot of direct spin-offs, one of which was the papal visit. Oona Stannard, the head of the Catholic Education Service, invited us to Twickenham where one of our pupils presented a book to the Pope.

"The second was another visit from Ofsted - its English practitioner is doing a survey to produce a book and we are one of the case studies. The third is that we have started to host major training days. They were already planned, but have since been a bigger success.

"More than 150 teachers from all over Manchester attended - a lot for an average-sized primary like ours. We have become a greater representative for the Manchester area.

"You cannot buy the impact it has on the school's reputation. It is such a great award to win."

Interviews by Georgia Laird


It's that time again: the clocks have gone back, Christmas looms large, and next year's TES Schools Awards is already winking suggestively.

"It is The TES centenary this year so we want the 2011 awards to be bigger and better than ever," says Gerard Kelly, editor of The TES. So this week we reveal the categories.

Next year there will be four new Tessas to win, with another extra special award - the Overall 2011 Outstanding School of the Year - selected from the winners of the Outstanding Primary, Secondary and Special Needs categories, and unveiled at the climax of the glittering London event next June.

Like last year, we will welcome entries from all four corners of the UK - England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland - and the prestigious panel of judges, to be announced in January, will come together from all four nations.

Entries can be submitted from today via the TES website: www.tes.co.ukawards. The closing date will be Friday March 11.

The six schools shortlisted for each category will be announced in The TES in April and followed with an invitation to the event.


  • Outstanding Primary School of the Year
  • Outstanding Secondary School of the Year
  • Outstanding Special Needs School of the Year
  • Outstanding Community Partnership Award
  • Outstanding Leadership Team Award
  • Outstanding Business
  • Management Team Award
  • Outstanding School Financial
  • Team or Initiative
  • Outstanding Literacy or Numeracy Initiative
  • Outstanding Sporting Initiative or Partnership
  • Outstanding Sustainable School or Partnership
  • Outstanding ICT Learning Initiative or Partnership
  • Healthy Eating Award
  • Outstanding Teaching Resource of the Year
  • Outstanding School Website
  • Lifetime Achievement Award Overall 2011 Outstanding School of the Year.


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