Categories & criteria

Entry is free and open to all state schools throughout the UK 

Classroom support assistant of the year

We want to identify the very best support in the classroom. Please demonstrate how you add value to teaching and learning, to teachers and pupils, and to classrooms and school, by:

•Building excellent links with key people – children, parents, teachers, support services

•Working in partnership with teachers during lessons

•Providing support for learning outside of the classroom

•Fostering pupils’ independence and supporting them to work collaboratively with peers

•Supporting pupils’ social and emotional development

•Developing and applying your knowledge and understanding of pupil learning and development, pupils’ needs, and best practices

•Contributing to the wider work of the school community

We want to see evidence of work in the classroom and out, contributions to lesson planning and feedback, creative displays and in engaging the children. Testimonials from teachers, headteachers, parents and others are welcome.

English teacher or team of the year

If you or your school team has found an innovative way to teach literacy or English, tell us all about it. The judges will want to see clear, quantifiable evidence of the success of any initiative and will also look at how your work has promoted your subject within your school or community. We are looking for teachers and teams who have created a sense of enthusiasm about the study of English – among students and also among colleagues – while also delivering excellent results.

* The supporting documentation should contain a minimum of three case studies for pupils (any school phase) who have progressed and shown real achievement.

Maths teacher or team of the year

Maths sometimes suffers from a bad reputation. "When will we ever need this in real life?” and "this is sooooo boring" are phrases that can be all too familiar to maths teachers. Have you managed to solve this problem? Have you found a way to help students enjoy mathematics AND be successful at it? If so, we want to hear from you. The judges will not only want to see proof of how you have helped students to make progress in maths, but also how you have created a buzz around your subject. We want to know how you have made children excited about studying maths and colleagues excited about teaching it.

* The supporting documentation should contain a minimum of three case studies for students (any school phase) who have progressed and shown real achievement.

Science, technology and engineering teacher or team of the year

This award recognises excellence and innovative teaching in science, technology or engineering. Judges will want to see clear examples of innovation and quantifiable evidence of the success of any initiative. They will also be on the lookout for how you have increased the status of your subject, whether by encouraging more students to pursue careers in Stem or by leading whole-school events to make science, technology and engineering more visible.

* The supporting documentation should contain a minimum of three short case studies showing innovative and effective approaches to engaging students in Stem and the impact these have on student progression and aspiration at any school stage.

New teacher of the year 

Sponsored by

This award is aimed at recognising the most inspirational new teacher in the country. Teachers can nominate themselves or they can be nominated by governors, teaching staff or parents (if you are nominating someone, please check first that they are willing to be put forward). In your submission, explain exactly what is special about the teacher and what impact they have made since joining the teaching community (in the past three years). Judges are looking for new entrants who are truly exceptional in their teaching and who regularly inspire and capture the imagination of their students. We’re looking for the best new teacher in the country, so it will help if your nomination includes hard evidence of success and achievement, and independent testimonials from a number of people.

Headteacher of the year

All schools benefit from great leadership – and if your school has a successful and inspirational headteacher, we want to know. In your submission, detail all the elements that make them a fantastic leader, including staff development and wellbeing, academic and other achievements, and community engagement. We do not want to know about how you’re meeting school inspectors’ demands but do want to know about all the other aspects that go into creating a truly happy and successful school. Please include at least three independent testimonials. Video submissions are welcomed, but these should not exceed 90 seconds. Nominations can come from heads themselves or from governors, teaching staff or parents. If you are nominating someone else, please check in advance that they are happy to have their name put forward.

Best use of technology

This award recognises measurable excellence in the use of technology by a teacher or a school. Judges will be looking for tangible evidence that the thoughtful and considered implementation of technology has had a positive impact on educational outcomes of students. They will take into account the scope of the use of technology and the different aspects of school life and improvement its use has influenced, as well as academic achievement. Please supply any relevant data and case studies.

Community and collaboration award

If your school is outward facing, then this award is for you. We are looking for schools that can show how they work with and support their parents and local people or collaborate with other schools, local businesses, universities or colleges. Judges will need to see evidence of effective engagement. Please supply a minimum of three testimonials from partners or the local community.

School business leader of the year

Funding, procurement and teacher recruitment all dominate our educational landscape at the moment, meaning the role of the school business leader has never been more relevant. We are seeking examples of exceptional school business leaders who have either harnessed the challenges faced by their school or trust and turned them into opportunities or supported other schools and professionals. That might be by leading their school or trust through financial challenges or organisational restructure, through collaborative working, by income generation or by entrepreneurial activity that has had an impact on their school’s success. This could also include acting as mentors, coaches, or running a local group or network to support other schools and professionals. In your submission, detail all the elements that make them an exemplary business leader, including examples of their impact on educational outcomes and how their work has supported their headteacher and governing body or another school business leader. Please include at least three independent testimonials. Nominations can come from headteachers, governors or senior leaders or from other school business leaders.

Wellbeing and mental health award  *New for 2020*

Wellbeing and mental health should be central to everything that schools do. We want to see evidence of projects put in place to support staff and pupils. We want to see whole-school initiatives or schemes that have benefited specific targeted groups. Please provide evidence of effect and case studies.

Environment champion of the year  *New for 2020*

We’re looking to recognise a member of school staff who is on a mission to save the planet. Whether you have a passionate commitment to helping endangered wildlife, ridding the oceans of plastic, fighting climate change or any other way of preserving the planet and the life it sustains, this award is for you. What we want to see evidence of is how that passion is translated into action and how you engage students and other members of the school team in your mission. We want to see how you have inspired positive changes in the school community and beyond. Please feel free to support your entry with photos, films, examples of pupil work, school newsletters, letters from parents/governors or links to your school website. You can nominate yourself or others can nominate you. If you are nominating someone, please check in advance that they are happy to have their name put forward for consideration.

Creative school of the year

Sponsored by

We would like to see entries from schools that put creativity at the heart of their work. This isn’t about individual projects in art, drama, music or design (although it could take in one or all of these subjects); this is about making children think differently, beyond the strictures of the conventional curriculum. Ideally, schools that enter should have taken a whole-school or cross-curricular approach to one or more projects and seen a blossoming in creativity in their pupils. While, of course, creativity is hard to measure, we would like to see evidence that the scheme or schemes have benefited either the entire school, the targeted group of pupils and/or the wider community.

Early years setting of the year

Judges will want to see that the early years setting is at the centre of its community and parents are as involved and enthusiastic about the setting as the children who attend it. It will be a given that it is excellent at offering the prime areas of learning – communication and language; physical development; and personal, social and emotional development – and at promoting the characteristics of effective learning. Provide evidence that your setting brings something unique to the mix in terms of the creativity and innovation that is at the heart of early years education. Show us how you are inclusive and how you meet the needs of every child who attends your setting.

All types of early years provision are eligible and we welcome entries from childminders as well as private, voluntary and independent (PVI) and school-based settings.

Primary school of the year 

Sponsored by

For primary schools, the key challenge is sparking a love for learning, then nurturing it until it burns brightly with a power of its own. Has your school notched up great achievements (and we’re not looking at inspection reports)? Have you shone out among other schools in the area? Did you blaze a trail of improvement? Do all your children love coming to school? Using evidence to support your case, tell us the secrets of your success. Was it down to innovative ways of working, parental involvement, pure grit and determination, or something else? However you did it, if you believe your school stood out during 2018-19, we want to know.

Secondary school of the year 

Sponsored by

This title will be open to secondary schools that have had an exceptional performance in the previous 12 months; however, it is equally applicable to those that have experienced rapid improvement and those that are maintaining continued excellence over a longer period. The judges want to see more than academic achievement: entries should demonstrate innovation, imagination and efforts to develop children in ways that go beyond the league tables. You should provide evidence to support your application, be it inspection reports, parent testimonials, data analysis or anything else you feel would be relevant.

Alternative provision school of the year 

Alternative provision units provide invaluable support to students. Teachers in these units work hard every day to make sure that students who may not be able to attend conventional school do not go without the great educational experience they deserve. This award is open to any type of standalone alternative provision (schools for students with special educational needs or emotional and behavioural difficulties, and pupil referral units). In your submission, tell us why the academic year 2018-19 was stand-out for your unit, citing successes and improvements. We would like quantifiable evidence to support your case. For example, you may have had improvements in attendance levels, staff retention, parental engagement or student success. You may have developed new and innovative ways to support students in their learning, helped them engage with their local community (including businesses), or you may want to tell us something else entirely. We want to look beyond traditional methods of measurement and celebrate success and innovation in alternative provision.

Lifetime achievement 

This award will reward someone who has made a significant contribution to education. It could be a well-known figure or a local hero. In your submission, explain exactly what the individual has achieved in their career and why you feel they deserve the trophy. Your nomination should include at least three independent testimonials. Please check with the nominee beforehand that they are happy to have their name put forward.

Overall school of the year

Sponsored by

This is the big one, the best of the best, the most coveted trophy of all. The winners of the early years, primary, secondary and alternative provision school of the year categories will be automatically entered for this award. The winner will be announced as the finale to the awards ceremony. Entries are not required for this category.