In October 1997, the Dell Primary School in Chepstow, Monmouthshire, became the first public sector organisation to win the UK Quality Award for Business Excellence.
The local authority school for 400 four to 11-year-olds had already been awarded the government's Charter Mark in 1995 for its high standards of customer service.
The following year, it was given Investment in People (IIP) status for achieving high quality in its staff development and training work. That same year, the school also won the regional Business Excellence Quality Award for the education sector in Wales.
Headteacher Keith Rowlands said: "While I have a five-yearly HMI inspection, I think there are other relevant external standards that are important to a school.
"We wanted to know whether our customer care was of a high order, so the relevant standard for us was the Charter Mark. It was also important for me that staff development was of a high order - therefore, there was a natural progression to seek Investors in People (IIP).
"In 1996, we came across the Business Excellence Model and we realised that it pulled all the relevant threads together. There are nine criteria - one of them is customer satisfaction and another is people management satisfaction.
"It is important that you have the right culture - a culture that is looking for individual excellence but not at anybody else's expense.
"I talk about the pyramid being inverted - with customers, parents and pupils at the top, with teachers empowered and headteachers just tinkering around at the bottom.
"All we wish is to be better tomorrow than we are today.
"Our route has been fairly logical. The important thing for us is not winning awards, it's getting a relevant external audit and getting very good quality feedback."