It’s been quite the year. Teachers and the whole schools sector deserved a proper celebration.
And tonight, the Tes Schools Awards gave them one, recognising inspirational teachers, leaders and schools from across the country.
Education's party may have moved online for the first time but there was no shortage of glitz and glamour.
Tes Schools Awards 2020: Who's made the shortlist?
Hosted by Alan Dedicoat, the voice of Strictly Come Dancing, the ceremony started with a special show by the cast of Disney’s The Lion King before honouring the achievements of some incredible schools.
There were 18 winners tonight. But the ceremony was a celebration and tribute to school staff everywhere for managing to keep the nation’s children’s education going in the most unimaginable of circumstances.
Tes editor Ann Mroz said in her speech: “We toast our very worthy winners but we also toast every single one of you in our schools. We’re proud of you and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.”
Thanks came also from across the political spectrum. Education secretary Gavin Williamson said in a special video message: “Massive congratulations to all the nominees and award winners. It’s been an incredibly tough year, as we have responded to the pandemic.
"The way in which teachers, support staff, leaders and school communities have come together to rise to that challenge has been nothing short of astonishing."
Labour shadow secretary of state for education Kate Green and shadow minister for schools Wes Streeting also sent their congratulations via video message to everyone working in schools.
“You have gone the extra mile in the most difficult circumstances, we can’t thank you enough,” Mr Streeting said.
The standard of entries was "high and, indeed in some cases, exceptional," Ms Mroz said.
The inspirational stories included Hunter’s Bar Infant School which built its own green wall to improve air quality, and an Ifield Community College and Ardingly College project that sent students competing across Australia on solar-powered cars they had built themselves.
And there's Siddiqa Mubashar, a trailblazing teacher who passed away recently and was recognised with the lifetime achievement award.
And Yvonne Conolly, the first black female headteacher in the UK, recognised with the Tes Services to Education Award.
She was congratulated in a video message by Katharine Birbalsingh, head of Michaela School in north London, Laura Henry-Allain, early years consultant and Tes Schools Awards judge, and Sir Steve Lancashire, CEO of Reach2 Academy Trust.
Ms Birbalsingh said in the video: "I take my hat off to you, and to my parents, and to those of your generation who stood before us know and paved the way."
There are many more inspirational stories behind the winners: here is the full list.
Services to education award
- Yvonne Conolly
Classroom support assistant of the year
School business leader of the year
New teacher of the year
Headteacher of the year
Creative school of the year
Maths teacher or team of the year
English teacher or team of the year
Science, technology and engineering teacher or team of the year
Lifetime achievement award
Best use of technology
Community and collaboration award
Environment champion of the year
Wellbeing and mental health award
Alternative provision school of the year
Early years setting of the year
Primary school of the year
Secondary school of the year
Overall school of the year