Pride and joy

4th March 2011 at 00:00
Pupils from 2010's top secondary let their banner do the talking as Michael Gove urges schools to enter this year's awards

Winning an award is often a cause for a party - but one secondary school in Merseyside decided to take their celebration global after picking up one of the gongs at last year's TES Schools Awards (TESSAs).

St John Plessington Catholic College in Wirral made a banner after being crowned Outstanding Secondary School, which now accompanies its pupils on every school trip.

School deputy head Brian Lally said since winning the award pupils at the school have taken it upon themselves to shout about the achievement.

"Every time we have a school trip we take the banner with us," Mr Lally said. "It bears the TES logo and states that we are the outstanding (secondary) school of the year. It has been all over the place.

"It was in Tiananmen Square in China, Seoul in South Korea, up to the top of the Eiffel Tower, and it has even been in the Disneyland castle. It was in the US over half-term for a school trip."

Education secretary Michael Gove has thrown his weight behind the TESSAs, describing them as a "showcase" for best practice in schools.

St John Plessington has transformed itself over the past five to six years, serving one of the poorest constituencies in Europe.

The college was an undersubscribed, underperforming school on a behaviour improvement programme. A significant number of its pupils had been identified as being at risk of committing crime.

In 2005, just 24 per cent of its pupils achieved the Government's target of five good GCSEs, including English and maths. It suffered from high exclusion rates, high rates of absence and a high staff turnover.

But through implementing an ethos of high expectation and close monitoring of pupils' performance, the school has turned itself around.

The approach has resulted in 55 per cent of its pupils getting five A* to C grades at GCSE, including English and maths. And Ofsted has judged it "oustanding".

"The award gave us the opportunity for celebration," Mr Lally said. "It was a chance to take stock of how far we had come. It was a valuation of how brilliantly we think our kids are doing and gave us the chance to say 'thank you' to the staff and to the wider community for helping us become school of the year."

He added: "Education is a very competitive place now. It is a massive leap of faith for any parent to send their child to a certain school and we are very aware of this.

"This gave us the chance to say, 'We think we're brilliant and you should, too'."

Mr Gove said: "The Times Educational Supplement's Schools Awards are a real showcase for schools involved in best practice.

"It is crucial that all schools learn from those that are doing things exceptionally well, or trying out innovative ideas.

"If you want to shout about your achievements, and gain widespread publicity and credit for your great work, make sure you enter."


There are only days left to enter this year's TES Schools Awards (TESSAs), which celebrate outstanding teams in the UK state and independent sector.

The entry deadline is 5pm on 11 March. The shortlist will be announced in April and the winners revealed at a gala lunch in July.


Derek Bell, head of education, Wellcome Trust

Sir Tim Brighouse, former schools commissioner and professor of education at Keele University

Mick Brookes, former general secretary, National Association of Head Teachers

Graham Donaldson, former senior chief inspector, Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Education, Scotland

Keri Facer, professor of education at Manchester Metropolitan University, former research director of Futurelab

Tony Gallagher, professor of education and pro vice-chancellor, Queen's University, Belfast

Lucy Heller, managing director, Ark Schools

Fred Jarvis, former general secretary, NUT

Brian Lamb, author of the Lamb inquiry into special educational needs

Annette Montague, schools director, Youth Sport Trust

Linda Smith, director of delivery, School Food Trust

Malcolm Trobe, policy director, Association of School and College Leaders

Mick Waters, former director of curriculum, Qualifications and Curriculum Authority.

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