2018 winners

The winners of the 2018 Tes Schools Awards, held in association with The Royal Air Force, were announced on Friday 22 June 2018 at the Grosvenor House Hotel, Park Lane, London.

Below are the winners in each category. Click the name of the category to view more information.

The winners e-book is available here 

Alternative provision school of the year

Brookside Academy, Street


Brookside Academy, in Street, is Somerset’s largest primary academy. But at the heart of the school is a 30-place specialist provision that offers education and year-round “wraparound” and short-break care for children with complex and profound learning needs. The school has won this award in recognition of the fact that, alongside a mainstream primary school, it has built alternative provision that is now renowned nationally for its high-quality teaching, learning and care.

However, this was not always the case. In 2013, Ofsted said that the school was not meeting the needs of some of its most complex students. These findings spurred the school into action – it recruited two more teachers, including its first profound and multiple learning difficulties teacher, and invested in an assistant head with a Sendco qualification. Brookside also restructured its school site, remodelling and extensively refurbishing five classrooms to meet specialist needs. This included the creation of a new bespoke sensory room.

The building work was accompanied by an expansion in its holiday provision – in 2017 this was accessed by 64 families with a child with special educational needs and disabilities. Thirty-four of these were families with a child classed as needing high-level one-to-one support at all times.

As a result of the changes Brookside made, in February it was commended by Ofsted for developing a “culture of inclusion throughout the school community” so that “pupils across the school, regardless of whether they are from the mainstream or the specialist provision, forge friendships, develop relationships and value the uniqueness of their school”.

Community and collaboration award

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Brookside Academy, Street


Brookside Academy in Street is Somerset’s largest primary school, with 600 children. The school, built on an ethos of community and collaboration, provides extra services for families with disabled children and new training and employment opportunities for the local area, and it has opened up its facilities to host community events.

Brookside shares best practice in the commissioning and delivery of short breaks for children with profound and complex special educational needs, helping to address gaps in the support system within Somerset. For 50 weeks of the year, it provides 8am-to-6pm affordable extended school provision. Children from both mainstream and specialist schools play and learn together in Brookside’s inclusive holiday club.

The school has provided training for 17 young people from the local area by employing them as apprentices across the school in teaching assistant, nursery, administrative and sports roles. This work has been recognised with Brookside featuring in the national apprenticeship programme top 100 employer list for the past two years. For 10 years Brookside has hosted up to 100 pensioners for an afternoon of entertainment and a buffet tea, with the school arranging minibuses for those who don’t have their own transport.

The lead judge commented: “Out of an incredibly strong category, Brookside Academy shone out as a school that really does not know when to stop caring for the community it serves; a remarkable school offering a remarkable level of wraparound care.”

Creative school of the year

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Formby High School, Liverpool


Formby High School believes that the arts and creativity are a “magic key” to unlocking students’ potential and develop their confidence, independence, resilience, pride and cooperation. Although there is increasing pressure on schools to focus on the English Baccalaureate, Formby maintains a strong suite of creative courses, with GCSE options in dance, drama, fine art and music. At sixth form, the creative curriculum includes A levels in art and design, music, music technology, theatre studies and dance.

The school operates daily art clubs and workshops, including 11 dance companies; 12 musical ensembles; a pantomime for Year 7 that routinely involves a cast of over 100 young thespians; a Tech Crew spanning Year 7 to 13, which runs the Drama Studio; and a Shakespeare Schools Festival drama company.

Community outreach is central to the school, with Formby investing more than £20,000 in allowing staff to work dedicated “community time” in local schools to enhance their creative curricula. The school is a leading local Artspace forum for art teachers and is part of the Creative Spark network with the Chartered College of Teaching, supporting the delivery of the Sing Up and UK Choir Festival programmes.

The judges said they were “hugely impressed by the way Formby High has sustained its commitment to a fully rounded creative curriculum in the face of wider pressures to narrow the breadth of student experience”.

“Not only do Formby students benefit from a dazzling array of creative opportunities themselves, the school also shows outstanding commitment to spreading its good practice beyond its own walls.”

Early years setting of the year

Pen Green Centre for Children and their Families, Corby


The Pen Green Centre was set up in 1983 as a service for families in Corby, Northamptonshire. A derelict comprehensive school was transformed into a stimulating environment for children and their families. Today, Pen Green provides nursery education, family support and adult education all under one roof.

When it was opened, Pen Green had just six members of staff. Today there are more than 120, working with over 1,800 families per year. The organisation’s work is underpinned by the principle of community education and the belief that all parents have a critical role to play as their child’s primary educators.

Based on this approach, Pen Green has developed a “one-stop shop” for families, including: a place where children can meet, learn and grow; an inclusive service for children with special educational needs and disabilities; and seamless provision for parents, with accessible adult education, health and social welfare services. The centre is rated “outstanding” by Ofsted, and a large number of its staff are senior figures in education who publish books and training materials for early years practitioners nationwide. The excellent teaching means that children consistently make rapid progress from their starting points. One government minister described Pen Green as the “Rolls-Royce” of nurseries.

The judges commented: “Pen Green is a legend in the early years sector and beyond. Its work has had a direct and lasting impact on outcomes for children and families over the course of three decades. It was a privilege to be able to acknowledge its inspirational work with this award.”

Employer of the year

Longwood Primary Academy and Nursery, Harlow


Three principles lie at the heart of Longwood Primary Academy and Nursery’s approach to staff development and wellbeing: teach, rest and play. The school believes that teachers who find a happy balance between work and life outside school are the most productive and enthusiastic.

The “teach” strand includes giving staff high-quality opportunities for enhancing teaching and learning, a structured development programme and simplifying what is expected from teachers. The “rest” strand involves reducing workload and marking – in 2016-17 the school trialled a marking policy that has cut workload by 67 per cent. By restructuring the school timetable to add an extra 30 minutes on to the school day, teachers were given back 13 days’ holiday.

Finally, the “play” strand is a staff wellbeing package that involves “star days” – paid leave as a reward for high attendance and being great teachers. It also includes flexibility for employees to see their children’s plays, and events for team building ranging from barbecues to ping-pong nights. Longwood has created an outside staff room to ensure that all employees get access to plenty of fresh air in a place where they can relax, and it provides free healthy breakfasts and lunches. As a result of Longwood’s approach, no member of staff left in 2017 and no one is planning to leave in 2018.

The lead judge commented: “The judges highly rated Longwood Primary Academy and Nursery’s commitment to ‘teach, rest, play’ at the centre of its approach to being an employer. Without a doubt, there is a dedication to supporting and developing professionals but also to caring for individuals’ welfare.”

English teacher or team of the year

Wyndham Primary Academy, Derby


Wyndham Primary Academy is in an inner-city school in an area of high deprivation. However, it refuses to let this be a barrier for its pupils. The school has adopted an English mastery curriculum, which means the class text changes half-termly. Each child is given their own copy of the book, which they keep and share with adults at home. The class book, specifically chosen to broaden children’s experiences, vocabulary and knowledge, is used as a hook for all learning experiences across the curriculum.

Oracy runs like a golden thread through the curriculum, with mysterious UFO sightings being reported in the school’s newsroom, and pupils commentating on Quidditch matches played at the school using Wyndham’s radio station.

As a result of Wyndham’s whole-school approach, by the end of Year 6 reading and writing attainment exceeded the national standard – reading was 81 per cent compared with 71 per cent nationally, and writing was 84 per cent compared with 76 per cent nationally.

The lead judge commented: “Wyndham Primary Academy’s English department is a close-knit and highly inventive team. They are rightly proud of the time and resources they not only put into their pupils, but also into their staff’s professional development; and all the time they prioritise learning, and a love of reading and writing. Their work is evidence-informed, their planning collaborative and rigorous. Their commitment unstinting. This is a team at the top of their game, dedicated to excellence, to innovation, to partnerships and to improving the life chances of all their pupils.”

Headteacher of the year

Jane Nolan, Ormiston South Parade Academy, Grimsby


Jane Nolan has dedicated her career to working in some of the most deprived communities in the country. She joined Ormiston South Parade Academy for her first headship in 2014 and within three years had transformed the school.

When she arrived at OSPA, the Lincolnshire school was at risk of special measures, staff morale was low and teacher retention was at crisis point. Jane reversed these trends and restored parents’ faith and trust in the academy.

Despite its being in one of the most deprived wards in the country, by 2017 the school’s progress scores were the highest in the region, placing it in the top 2 per cent in England. Attainment is also significantly above the national average in 22 out of 23 measures across all key stages.

At the heart of Jane’s approach is an absolute commitment to inclusion and enrichment. She is out in all weathers talking to parents, organising food parcels for struggling families and going the extra mile for pupils. As a single parent of a child with special educational needs and disability, she understands the challenges that pupils and parents face, and her empathy and sensitivity is a huge strength.

The lead judge commented: “Jane Nolan is an outstanding head who achieves outstanding results for her pupils. Pupils in her school develop a love of learning. She has built a strong team and develops leadership across her school. She also works to support other schools in what is one of the most deprived areas in the country.”

Healthy school of the year

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Birtenshaw School, Bolton


Birtenshaw is a special school for pupils aged 3 to 19. Catering for pupils with moderate to severe learning needs and autistic spectrum conditions, communication difficulties, multi-sensory impairments, significant medical conditions and physical disabilities, it is committed to supporting disabled young people to live healthy lives and make healthy choices.

In 2015, the school employed a head of service for enrichment, recreation and leisure, and a team of activity instructors, enabling it to provide more positive physical health and emotional wellbeing. When pupils arrive at Birtenshaw, they undergo a full 12-week assessment with occupational therapy, speech and language therapy and other assessments, including those done by dieticians and NHS services.

The school adapted its menu to encourage pupils to enjoy a more varied diet. As well as having a school greenhouse and polytunnel, each class has a raised bed in which they grow fruit and vegetables. In PE the school plans innovative lessons that encourage pupils to participate in sports, and an inclusive gym provides an alternative learning environment that is wheelchair accessible, calm and quiet.

The lead judge said: “Birtenshaw impressed all the judges with its whole-child approach to health, incorporating eating, exercise and mental health. The staff showed amazing creativity, ambition and commitment in planning and implementing healthy choices for the children in the school, and led by example with 56 members of staff completing a 10km fun run to raise awareness of health and funds for the school. A worthy winner in a very strong field.”

Innovative use of technology to influence outcomes

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Seaview Primary School and Nursery, Belfast


At Seaview Primary School and Nursery, technology has played a big role in improving academic achievement – and the school has made year-on-year progress since 2015. Each classroom has an interactive whiteboard, which is used daily to integrate technology into lessons in fun and meaningful ways. The use of iPads throughout the school has allowed Year 3 and 4 pupils to take part in Mathletics competitions against other children across the world. Since adopting the technology, the school has experienced an improvement in attendance and a decline in poor behaviour.

Technology is used at Seaview to enrich the curriculum. Using applications such as iMovie and VisioPrompt, Year 6 pupils put together news reports on natural disasters they had researched as part of their “fragile Earth” topic, undertaking roles as scriptwriters, videographers and news reporters.

E-safety is taken extremely seriously. Parents and guardians have been invited to school to take part in sessions with Seaview’s community police officer, and the school annually celebrates “E-Safety Week’”. This week of events provides opportunities to focus on the topic through a range of activities, with different classes working as buddies to undertake an e-safety-related task.

The judges said: “The scope of Seaview’s use of technology was impressive. From improving attendance, behaviour and key stage outcomes to developing staff through in-house CPD sessions, it was a comprehensive example of how technology can be used to positively impact many aspects of school life.”

International award

Sponsored by 

Brighton College, Brighton


Reading Spots is a UK-registered charity set up in 2015 by two Brighton College teachers, a Ghanaian driver and six pupils. The project aims to engage pupils in charitable ethics and international development, while raising funds to create sustainable and community-led libraries in remote areas of Ghana.

Since 2015, the school has raised more than £110,000 to construct eight community libraries and a classroom block in Ghana, shipping over 20,000 books, buying £1,500 worth of African books and gaining support from six UK schools, four trust funds and several publishers. The libraries are usually owned by tribal leaders who provide land, a librarian and electricity. The projects are shared by schools and so far have benefited more than 5,000 pupils in Ghana.

From 2016-17, Brighton College pupil ambassadors have shared their understanding of charity development through assemblies, and they have also led cultural concerts, “Azonto” danceathons and a reading sponsorship scheme at Brighton College’s pre-prep. In Easter 2017 Brighton College staff visited Ghana, and the school has given one teacher a sabbatical year to complete a study in the country as part of an MA in education and international development.

One pupil wrote: “Lots of things at school make me think. But this course has really made me think about what I’m thinking. I have learned not to look at Africa through the lens of someone who has grown up in England, but to take time to understand it from the perspective of those who live there.”

Lifetime achievement

Denise Fox, Fulham Cross Girls’ School, Fulham


Denise Fox has been described as a “one-woman powerhouse in education in Hammersmith and Fulham”. But her education career got off to an inauspicious start. A local girl who went to school in Fulham, she failed her O levels. But, undaunted, she repeated fifth form and then applied for teacher training. During her course at Roehampton University, she was told that she “wasn’t cut out for teaching” and advised to “give it all up”. This lecturer hadn’t reckoned on her tenacity – Denise got on with learning her craft and started on a career that has spanned nearly 40 years in education.

Her first job was as a home economics teacher at Hurlingham and Chelsea School, but she quickly picked up extra duties in the form of shared responsibility for careers and running the “fifth-year bridge course”. She then moved to Fulham Cross Girls’ School, where she has spent the remainder of her career. As “head of personal development, sixth form and fourth and fifth year”, she forged a relationship with the police schools’ liaison officer in Fulham. Many of the students in Denise’s care are brought up in environments that experience a high level of crime, but she has always worked to educate them so that they understand the potential consequences of poor choices.

Working her way up to head of school at FCGS, Denise has taken the school from strength the strength – it now sits in the top 2 per cent of schools for progress. The strapline for the school is “empowering tomorrow’s women’ – something Denise embodies in everything she does.

Maths teacher or team of the year

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Nicola Whiston, Ormiston Chadwick Academy, Cheshire


Nicola Whiston is head of maths at Ormiston Chadwick Academy in Widnes, having begun her teaching career at nearby Ormiston Bolingbroke Academy. At Ormiston Bolingbroke, she was keen to teach on the A-level maths course, but her head of department was sceptical, thinking that her original degree in psychology might be a hindrance to excellent pupil outcomes. But Nicola told him to let her sit the A-level exam that summer, with the proviso that if she did well she should be awarded her own A-level class the following year. Her pupils’ GCSE results that year were exceptional, and in her own A-level exam Nicola scored 99 per cent.

After moving to Ormiston Chadwick, Nicola was put in charge of driving teaching and learning in the school’s underperforming maths department. Within two years, the department had not only turned a corner but was also achieving some of the best outcomes in the North West. One of the ways in which Nicola gets her pupils to engage in maths is by using social media – the school’s maths Instagram profile has nearly 800 followers.

With high standards in maths secured at Ormiston Chadwick, Nicola has now sought out a role at another school in the trust that needs help. The lead judge for the maths award commented: “What really impresses me about Nicola is her unwavering desire to improve, and to keep improving, both herself and the outcomes for the students she teaches. Such dedication and passion is an inspiration to all.”

New Teacher of the year

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Caroline Keep, Penketh High School, Warrington


Caroline Keep retrained to become a physics teacher, having previously worked as a geotechnical engineer. During her PGCE year, she helped to organise a festival to promote science, technology, engineering, art and maths (Steam) and maker-education for young people. Called Liverpool MakeFest, it is now in its fourth year. In her PGCE year Caroline also published her first education paper – “The Tardis Effect: mobile phones and Stem teaching”.

Two years ago, Caroline joined Future Tech Studio School in Warrington as a NQT. She quickly engaged her pupils by promoting hands-on learning via Arduino and RaspberryPi technology, which led to her class winning the regional Big Bang contest and heading to the national finals in Birmingham with a nuclear waste robotics project. Her school won an Educate to Innovate award that year as a result of this achievement. Caroline also won the Amaze Award for digital excellence with a RaspberryPi weather station project. She achieved her first 100 per cent pass rate for physics that year and, in addition, published a second academic paper.

Unfortunately, Caroline’s school was closed in the summer of 2017. However, she was quickly snapped up by Penketh High School, where she reorganised the physics curriculum, before opening the first state school “makerspace” in the UK.

The judges commented: “Caroline stood out as she is such an inspirational role model – both for other new teachers and for pupils. As such an enthusiastic and knowledgeable champion for Steam learning, her impact in a relatively short time has been phenomenal both in its reach and in its excellence. Her drive, determination and passion for teaching shines out of all she does.”

Overall school of the year

 Sponsored by 

Pen Green Centre for Children and their Families, Corby


Overall school of the year Pen Green Centre for Children and their Families, Corby Described by one Tes judge as a “legend” in the early years sector, Pen Green Centre for Children and their Families is the Tes overall school of the year.

From humble beginnings, with just a handful of staff, Pen Green has established an international reputation because of its excellence in early years education and prodigious research output. In its last Ofsted report, inspectors said: “You have the highest of expectations for every child. You believe that no limits should be set on their potential, regardless of their circumstances, ability or needs. Staff develop the communication and confidence of children with additional needs exceptionally well.”

But while Pen Green has an excellent reputation, it is determined not to rest on its laurels. Ofsted said that Pen Green’s governors “completely refuse to be in any way complacent” and “ensure that staff are continually improving their skills”.The school remains focused on developing innovative and effective ways of working with families from across the community.

The judges said: “Pen Green is characterised by its passion and commitment to meet the needs of every child. The centre serves a diverse community and has a well-deserved global reputation for the quality of learning and teaching that children enjoy. Parents and the local community are deeply engaged in the work of the centre. Pen Green’s influence stretches well beyond its own boundaries and the centre supports a teaching alliance, and has influenced and guided the work on early education here in the UK and beyond.”

Primary school of the year

Eldon Primary School, Preston


For many years, Eldon Primary School’s Sats results have been among the best in the country for its size and intake, and the school was rated “outstanding” by Ofsted earlier this year. But there is far more to the school than just test results and Ofsted ratings. Eldon boasts Preston’s only primary radio station – something it has used to boost the confidence and self-esteem of its children while enriching their speaking skills. It has transformed one classroom into a 4D immersive room, which it uses to fire pupils’ imaginations by transporting them from the rain-soaked streets of Lancashire to exotic jungles, outer space and everywhere in between.

To promote the health and wellbeing of its pupils, the school appointed two PE specialists to overhaul its provision and improve children’s lifestyles, and it offers 24 extracurricular clubs with more than 250 pupils participating. While inner-city Preston lacks outdoor space, the school has transformed a piece of nearby derelict land into a thriving area to implement the Forest Schools philosophy. Children visit the land to cook food on open fires, build dens and hunt insects.

The judges said they were “very impressed by Eldon Primary because of the combination of high standards with joyful learning, creativity and innovation”. They added: “This is a school that values every aspect of the curriculum and works closely with the wider community. It is evident that not only is the curriculum of a high standard, there are also many other opportunities for children and families beyond the school day.”

Science, technology and engineering teacher or team of the year

Gomer Junior School, Gosport


“Learning today for the challenge of tomorrow” is the ethos of Gomer Junior School in Gosport. Children receive three hours of science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem) learning per week – an exceptional standard for a primary school – with children encouraged to “think like engineers”. To facilitate this, the school has linked “engineering habits of mind”, developed by the Royal Academy of Engineering, to its own pedagogy. Learners are motivated by and understand the real-world applications of Stem subjects and they experience hands-on activities that bring learning and career opportunities to life. This can range from designing an F1 car and putting it through speed tests to coding Crumbles and programming BBC microbits.

Not content with championing Stem within its own setting, Gomer is spreading its expertise beyond the school gates. The school is a founder member of the Gosport and Fareham Multi-Academy Trust, and its Stem model is being used to create a continuum curriculum in the trust’s secondary schools of 4,000 pupils. The school has also been awarded an ENTHUSE partnership to lead on Stem improvement locally. Gomer is working with the University of Chichester to share its pedagogy and support the institution with the writing of a primary undergraduate Stem degree course.

The judges said: “Gomer Junior School has developed a wonderful and extensive experience for primary students in science and engineering, offering a rich curriculum. It links into secondary science education and inputs into primary education courses. It showcases how integrated and inspirational primary science can be and it is a truly worthy winners of science, technology and engineering team of the year.”

Secondary school of the year

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Kensington Aldridge Academy, North Kensington


Kensington Aldridge Academy is an 11-19 academy in the heart of the community in West London. The academy opened in new buildings in 2014 and has 920 students on roll.

On 14 June last year, the life of the school was changed by the Grenfell Tower fire. The extraordinary work that KAA did to bounce back from the tragedy has been recognised with a Tes services to education award. But the school is also the winner of secondary school of the year title for its exceptional academic achievements.

KAA was graded “outstanding” in all categories in its first full Ofsted inspection in December 2017. “What the school has achieved is remarkable,” Ofsted reported. “Leaders have created a culture of high expectations and a commitment to excellence from all staff. The quality of leadership at all levels is exceptional.”

The inspectors added: “Leaders and staff have shown determination, resilience and commitment in steering the school through what happened after the Grenfell Tower fire.” They noted that parents had been “full of praise for how well and sensitively leaders have managed the school since the event”, and said that the challenges of helping pupils and staff cope with the emotional repercussions of the fire had been “carefully managed”.

In spite of the trauma of the Grenfell Tower fire, the “founder cohort” of KAA sixth-formers achieved an excellent first set of national results, coming in the top 10 per cent of schools for value added, with 61 per cent of all entries graded A-C.

Services to education


Kensington Aldridge Academy,North Kensington


“A great school is an important part of a successful community, and for a school to sustain that role and endure within the most tragic and extraordinary of circumstances as those encountered by Kensington Aldridge Academy … is a remarkable story of leadership, courage and resilience.” That’s how the judges described the school in West London. After being relocated twice within four months as a result of the Grenfell Tower fire, the school was graded “outstanding” in its first full Ofsted inspection in December 2017.

The school lost four pupils and one former pupil in the tragic events at Grenfell Tower on 14 June 2017, and nearly 60 students were rehoused because of the disaster. That morning, the senior leadership had to rearrange for Year 12 students to sit their AS-level maths exam at Burlington Danes Academy. In the 48 hours following the fire, the entire school timetable had to be rewritten to accommodate lessons at Latymer Upper School and Burlington Danes for the remaining five weeks of term.

When it became clear that KAA would not be able to return to its building in time for the beginning of term in September, the school worked in partnership with the Education and Skills Funding Agency, construction company Mace and Portakabin to design a temporary school for the start of term. Dubbed “the fastest school ever built”, the project took just 12 weeks from appointment to occupation. The school was built in a record-breaking nine weeks.

In recognition of its extraordinary achievements in the most challenging of circumstances, this year KAA is the recipient of the services to education award.

Sustainable schools award

Sponsored by

Victoria Park Primary School, Bedminster


Victoria Park Primary School sits on a concrete triangle in innercity Bristol with little space or greenery. But it has a school full of “Green Ambassadors” who are inspired – and inspiring others – to make a difference.

Sustainability is woven into the fabric of the school. The children run a shoe swap every Friday, where pupils can buy pre-loved shoes for £1 or swap those they have grown out of for 50p. Money from this has enabled the school to purchase bird feeders and bird food, which have brought blackbirds and blue tits to Victoria Park’s outdoor classroom – a sight seldom previously seen.

Other activities organised by the school have included a book exchange service for adults, a Switch Off Fortnight campaign and a Waste Week initiative. The school “Green Team” undertakes litter picking and publishes a newsletter containing sustainability tips. To ensure that the whole school has an input into sustainability, each class elects an “Eco Rep”. In addition to winning the Tes sustainable schools award, this year Victoria Park’s achievements have been recognised by its being runner-up in the WWF Green Ambassador Schools Award, and winning green team of the year in the same competition.

The judges said: “Victoria Park Primary school is an amazing sustainable school. It takes a whole-school approach to sustainability, including its values, pupil voice and wellbeing – not just a few activities. It models sustainability with great ideas such as shoe swaps. Even in an urban setting, it’s possible to learn about and practise sustainability.”