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'We're all involved in continuous improvement';Business models;Management amp; Finance;Update

St Mary's College in Londonderry is a veteran of national award schemes. The school has already won 18 awards for training and education, including three Charter Marks, and is now working towards the latest government-backed award launched in September: the TNT Modernising Government Partnership Award.

Headteacher Geraldine Keegan said: "What attracts us is that this award concentrates on partnership working, which is an important part of government policy.

"But it is important to choose the right award. The Charter Mark is about providing customer care and satisfaction, whereas Investors in People is about trying to maximise the potential of the workforce.

"We didn't enter ISO 9000 because we didn't think it was relevant to us. But the TNT partnership award appeals to us because it is based on the European Foundation for Quality Management's (EFQM) Business Excellence Model. This award really brings all the other awards under one umbrella by looking at all aspects of school life. It allows us to identify our strengths and weaknesses and the opportunities for improvement.

"The extra work isn't a major cause for concern because everyone is involved in the continuous improvement process. It produces a climate of innovation and an atmosphere of openness, which means the level of stress is minimised.

"On the whole, staff are highly motivated and the awards have been a great morale booster for all of us."

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