TES Schools Awards: recognising exceptional teams and leaders

What singles out the remarkable from the average? In the first of a three-part series, members of our distinguished judges panel describe the qualities they will be looking for in the winners of five of the 16 categories, including schools of the year

Georgia Laird

A new awards scheme that will foster, recognise and reward teamwork and collaboration in schools is being launched by The TES.

The TES Schools Awards, which take place on June 9 this year, consist of 16 categories which will celebrate and reward the flare and professionalism of teams making an outstanding contribution to primary and secondary schools in the maintained and independent sectors.

Sir Cyril Taylor of the Cyril Taylor Charitable Trust, a member of the judging panel, said he welcomed the initiative.

"I strongly support The TES decisions to make awards to schools for particular achievements," he said.

Sir Cyril, a former government adviser on specialist schools and academies, urged teachers to nominate their schools.

"A crucial characteristic of a successful school is not necessarily the absolute level of its success in examinations such as key stage 2, GCSE and A-levels, but the improvement in results which have been made over the past few years," he said.

The awards recognise a wide range of achievements, including new facilities, innovation in teaching, leadership and community involvement.

The judges will look beyond the traditional methods of measurement and seek out examples of initiatives across a wide range of activities.

Primary School of the Year

This category is open to any primary - new or old - that teachers believe has something to shout about.

Sir Cyril Taylor (pictured above) will be seeking out a breadth of achievement: "A good school is made up of so many different characteristics such as the ability to attract and retain good teachers, curriculum innovation such as vocational awards or the International Baccalaureate, and the involvement of parents and the use of older students to act as mentors for younger children."

Joan Olivier, former head of Lady Margaret School in Fulham, west London, will also be joining the judging panel. She believes that a school's success should be judged by its pupils.

"When judging the school of the year category, the panel will look at pupil, parental and staff feelings about the school," she said.

"One of the biggest aspects to look at is the relationship between staff and pupils - a good school instils good relationships that create a good ethos."

Another judge, Dr Jeanne Keay, dean of the school of education at Roehampton University, shares Ms Olivier's opinions on what makes an excellent school.

She said: "A school that has its own community, that becomes a part of the local community and works to improve it is an impressive school. Schools can become isolated, but I'm looking for a whole-school community feel."

Secondary School of the Year

The TES will also be awarding a prize to the secondary school of the year.

As well as as examining quantifiable evidence to support entrants' cases - for example improvements in attendance levels, staff retention, parent engagement and exam results - judges will again look beyond the traditional methods of measurement and seek out innovation across the board.

Judge Sir Tim Brighouse (above), former London schools commissioner, outlined the qualities he will be looking for. "An outstanding school is one that demonstrates togetherness among its staff and pupils," he said.

"There needs to be a high degree of shared purpose. I'm looking for schools that can demonstrate a rekindling of education and an interest in the attainment of staff and pupils."

Judges will be also be seeking persuasive evidence to show that everybody is involved in some aspect of the school.

Fellow judge Malcolm Trobe, a former head and a past president of the Association of School and College Leadership, said: "I'd like to see a school taking on initiatives such as Every Child Matters, Sustainable Schools, Extended Schools and so on. Working towards these goals develops young individuals who are socially aware."

Mr Trobe believes that a good school works to develop pupils and gives them lifelong skills.

Outstanding Leadership Team

This category is for the best school management team and will usually involve the headteacher, deputy and their administrativefinancial support staff.

Entrants should be able to explain why their team is outstanding and itemise its achievements over the past 12 months. The judges will be keen to see independent evidence or testimonials that support the success of the team.

Mr Trobe said good leadership is one that is genuinely distributive. "A distributive leadership provides a key working ethic where everyone understands the system, they have accountability and responsibility amongst them."

He believes a leadership team that demonstrates commitments outside as well as in school is really impressive.

Joan Olivier (above), who joins Mr Trobe on the judging panel for this category, said: "A good leadership team is based on good chemistry.

"It is up to the headteacher to add the personal touch and avoid becoming an administrator who sits behind a large desk ticking boxes for the government."

Sir Cyril said the judges will be looking beyond the performance of the senior management team.

"A good leadership team is made up of not only the headteacher and the heads of department but also the governing body."

The award will go to the school that demonstrates the breadth and depth of its management and leadership skills across a wide range of functions.

Outstanding Literacy Initiative

What has your school done to help your pupils improve their literacy skills?

Literacy is an area of particular interest for judge Michael Spinney (above), headteacher of The Beacon School in Amersham, Buckinghamshire: "Literacy is an area of particular interest. I will be looking for a school that can show imagination in their literacy initiatives."

He added: "An initiative that compels children and engages pupils through language, both written and spoken, will really stand out to me."

Outstanding Numeracy Initiative

For the most innovative projects and strategies. Roehampton's Dr Keay believes that integration is an important aspect when judging both the literacy and numeracy awards: "It is very easy to drill these lessons out in the morning, when the children are more focused," she said. "I want to find a school that includes numeracy and literacy in the whole school curriculum, not just in numeracy and literacy hour."

Sir Cyril added: "A good grasp on basics such as literacy and numeracy is one of the corner characteristics of what makes a good school."


Among those on the panel:

Sir Tim Brighouse Former London schools commissioner.

Sir Cyril Taylor Former government adviser on specialist schools and academies.

Malcolm Trobe Former ASCL president and retired head.

Joan Olivier Retired head of Lady Margaret secondary, west London.

Jeanne Keay Dean of the school of education, Roehampton University.

Michael Spinney Head of The Beacon School, Amersham, Buckinghamshire.

Derek Bell Chief executive, Association for Science Education.

Keri Facer Professor of education, Manchester Metropolitan University; former research director of Futurelab.

Dennis Richards Retired head and Teaching Awards lifetime achievement winner.



Primary School of the Year

Secondary School of the Year

Outstanding Special Needs Initiative of the Year

Community Involvement

Outstanding Leadership Team

Outstanding Literacy Initiative

Outstanding Numeracy Initiative

Outstanding Sporting Initiative

Sustainable School of the Year

Best e-Learning Initiative

Personalised Learning Initiative of the Year

Best School Dinners

Outstanding Staff TrainingDevelopment Initiative

Outstanding New or Refurbished Primary School

Outstanding New or Refurbished Secondary School

Outstanding Recruitment Advertisements Campaign How to enter

For more information, email tesawards@tes.co.uk, phone 020 3194 3097 or visit www.tes.co.uk.

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Georgia Laird

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