At a ceremony in London last week, Wendy Wallace received the pound;2,000 prize, the judges said, for "first-class reportage vividly illustrating the daily challenges and dilemmas facing teachers. She doesn't seem to have an agenda beyond finding out what's happening and telling it straight and clear."
Wendy was the judges' unanimous choice from a shortlist of nine for four features in Friday about schools struggling to raise standards. Two other Friday writers - David Newnham and Harvey McGavin - were shortlisted alongside Nick Davies of The Guardian and Mike Baker of the BBC. Wendy's features included a description of Northdown primary in Margate, Kent. Set in bed and breakfast land, turnover is high and the children are among the poorest in Britain. But an inspired head and her staff have created a learning haven.
"Wendy writes brilliantly and simply. Her work brings home what is going on on the ground in a striking way," said the judges. They included Peter Preston, former editor of the The Guardian, Mary Riddell, a columnist on The Observer, and Josh Hillman, head of education policy at BBC Education.
Sala Abdalla, a 17-year-old pupil at Robert Clack school in Essex, was named academic student of the year. When she arrived in Britain from the Sudan, aged 10, she spoke no English. Now she has nine A* GCSEs and two A grade GCSEs.