Awards - Winner - Outstanding Leadership Team - Duston School, Northampton

18th December 2009 at 00:00

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

What they did

Until May last year, Duston was known as the school that had kept its "failing" label for longer than any other - more than seven years. Then Ofsted described it as a "rapidly improving school" with "outstanding and decisive leadership". Three years ago Ofsted complained that staff absence was worse than that of the pupils: it is now 96 per cent.

The leadership team (pictured) has turned the school around by using new teaching strategies to engage teachers and developing an excellent continuous professional development programme. The team says that it has not used "the heroic single-handed" approach but has distributed leadership throughout the school.

Last year the school gained Investors in People, an Inclusion Quality Mark and a Healthy Schools Award. The citation for the latter spoke of the support mechanisms for pupils, staff and parents and the rewards used to boost staff and pupil confidence. The team inherited a #163;500,000 deficit, but the budget now has a healthy surplus. It has achieved specialist status in business enterprise and science and the school achieved trust status on April 1 this year.

The team says: "Every day we open our doors to the young people of our community. They arrive enthusiastic, willing and above all proud of their school."

What the judges said

The judges spoke of "huge progress". They said: "There is a tangible sense of achievement and pride. The school is a powerful example of teamwork and proves what can be achieved by a committed, hard-working team."

You could do it, too

Effective leadership teams were crucial in turning the shortlisted schools around. In a newly formed federation school, for example, results improved at both schools thanks to the combined work of their senior staff; another team took over a nearby primary school that was failing and has now seen applications rise by 30 per cent; one actively promotes good leadership at all levels and has been recognised by Ofsted for doing so; another has introduced a buddying scheme and anti-bullying projects; finally, a London school has transformed below-average results into achieving the top 5 per cent in the country for contextual value added.

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

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