TES Schools Awards 2009 - Secondary school of the year

12th June 2009 at 01:00

Winner - Denbigh High, Luton, Bedfordshire

This 11-16 comprehensive and specialist sports college, where 89 per cent of pupils have a first language other than English, is remarkable for the way it uses sport to raise achievement. It is constantly looking for new ways of engaging its most difficult pupils through curriculum innovations.

In September last year, it started a sports academy for key stage 4 pupils who are disillusioned with school. In addition to playing plenty of sport, they also focus on improving their literacy and numeracy and study for Btec awards.

Every pupil follows a course to develop leadership. They organise sports festivals for primary schools and are trained to coach younger pupils. Older pupils work with modern languages staff to plan and teach starter lessons for Year 7 in French, Spanish, Urdu and Bengali.

The school council is very active. It has been the driving force behind a recycling project and in highlighting environmental issues.

Ofsted has rated Denbigh High outstanding.

Judges' verdict: "The school has continued to sustain improvement over many years: no mean feat. What was particularly impressive was the use of sport and physical activity to raise achievement and the curriculum to develop leadership capacity. There was outstanding work in academic mentoring and promoting students' development through a personalised approach."

The judges were also impressed by the way in which teachers and pupils were "at the heart of the school" and spoke of "fantastic distributed leadership and wonderful opportunities for young people to take on leadership roles".

They praised Denbigh High's "remarkable achievement of integrating pupils from a variety of backgrounds".

TES Schools Awards 2009:

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