Amid stiff competition, Ian ‘Mac’ McDougall, former headteacher of St Berteline’s CofE Primary School in Runcorn, is the winner of this year’s lifetime achievement award.
Judges were highly impressed with the culture McDougall had fostered in the school, commenting that it “oozes loveliness” and that its happy atmosphere was a tribute to what he had achieved there.
McDougall set up St Berteline’s in his early thirties. He built the school up from 22 pupils to 300, establishing a vibrant community with a strong focus on the importance of outdoor learning.
He helped pupils to see the value of taking care of their environment, putting a stop to vandalism in the 1970s and 1980s, as well as visiting pupils’ homes to ensure they came into school if there were difficulties. He led trips to the Lake District and whole-school outings to the beach alongside parents, with groups squeezed into double-decker buses.
Colleagues describe his enthusiasm for learning as infectious, and he regularly incorporated performances on his guitar in his humorous assemblies. McDougall also celebrated diversity in the arts through dance projects, multicultural music and cookery.
His commitment to high expectations ensured that the school has continued to be inclusive and supportive of all pupils. Staff report how McDougall had complete trust in his staff and would take risks for the good of the pupils, with staff development at the top of his agenda.
While semi-retired during the mid 2000s, McDougall also worked as a visiting lecturer at Chester College and with local outward bound groups to bring children from the inner cities out to the countryside.
The positivity of St Berteline’s culture is to his credit and for this reason, the lifetime achievement award is richly deserved.