'The award has given us a glow of self-belief'
"If I'm head boy at a school that's the best in the country that makes me quite important, doesn't it?" 14-year-old Matthew Crosby asked his headteacher.
For Springfields Academy in Calne, Wiltshire, this sense of confidence has been one of the biggest bonuses of winning the 2012 TES Outstanding School of the Year Award.
Staff at the school, which was also named special school of the year, work with children who have complex behavioural problems, providing them with a "last chance saloon", according to headteacher Trystan Williams.
"It takes a certain type of teacher to come here day after day and make a difference," he said. "To win the awards has given us the impetus to work harder and raise standards even further. It has given us a glow of self-belief to keep going, extra energy even during the darkest times, because you know you are making a difference and people recognise what we are doing."
The TES Schools Awards were established to celebrate and reward the professionalism and flair of those making an outstanding contribution to primary, secondary and special schools. Entries for this year's awards are now open.
Heads, teachers and support staff will be honoured for their creativity, passion and dedication. This year, awards will also be given for work promoting achievement in subjects including English, maths, science, humanities and foreign languages.
"In previous years we have seen wonderfully inventive examples of projects schools are doing in literacy, numeracy and ICT," said Gerard Kelly, TES editor. "However, they are not the only subjects that schools teach, so we are delighted to broaden the categories this year.
"We know the new awards will interest secondary schools and we hope primaries will recognise that they can enter them as well, as they often have some of the most creative approaches."
Staff at Springfields felt that their innovative work had gone unnoticed by many in the profession until it was recognised by TES last year. Since then, they have been contacted by teachers from around the world who have been eager to find out more about what makes the school a success.
Although many pupils have very poor literacy skills when they arrive at the school, 40 per cent of the 2011 GCSE cohort achieved five A*-C grades including English and maths, or an equivalent. But the school does not just concentrate on academic success: Springfields also runs a farm and pupils have been taken on expeditions to places including Africa and the Arctic.
"We have had more and more schools and local authorities get in touch with us who want to visit and see our work, which has been uplifting and inspiring for us," Mr Williams said. "I tell all new pupils about the awards, and to a young person it means so much to know their school has been recognised."
Apply for the 2013 TES Schools Awards at www.tesawards.co.uk.