TES Schools Awards 2009 - Outstanding leadership team

12th June 2009 at 01:00

Winner - The Duston School, Duston, Northamptonshire

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. Now that's all changed: 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: the school now has 96 per cent attendance.

The current leadership team has turned the secondary school around by using new strategies to engage teachers and developing an excellent continuous professional development programme. The team says it has not used the "heroic, single-handed" approach but instead has distributed leadership throughout the school. Twenty-three staff have taken part in the National College for School Leadership's Leading from the Middle project.

Last year the school gained the Investors in People standard, an Inclusion Quality Mark and a Healthy Schools award. The citations spoke of the support mechanisms for pupils, staff and parents and the rewards used to boost staff and pupil confidence.

The team inherited a Pounds 500,000 deficit, but the budget now has a healthy surplus. The school has achieved specialist status on its first application and expects to achieve trust status.

The leadership 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."

Judges' verdict: Remarking on the school's "huge progress", the judges 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."

TES Schools Awards 2009:

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