Hall of Fame
Click on the categories below to read a little bit more about our 2019 winners
Meadow View Farm School
Meadow View Farm School, in Leicestershire, has 36 pupils, each with social, emotional and mental health needs
Pupils are unable to access mainstream schools owing to complex needs. One-third of the children are looked after or post-adoption, and many have been through traumatic experiences.
But through the farm and forest setting of the school, in conjunction with classes in which they’re taught the national curriculum, pupils learn how to manage their high levels of anxiety and to begin to trust in adults.
Judges described the school as “aspirational and exciting”. They read about one little boy who arrived at the school with a number of special needs. The pupil had experienced trauma after the death of one parent; he subsequently travelled around the country with his other parent attending a number of different schools. The boy was verbally and physically aggressive towards Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services professionals and they refused to see him, but school staff assisted him and his grandmother at future appointments in order to manage his behaviour, and this had an “astounding impact”.
Because of its achievements, the school has been visited by professionals in education and healthcare from as far afield as Australia and Turkey.
The judges noted that, rather than a traditional behaviour policy, the school has “a system for success” that is built on high expectations and trust.
University of Cambridge Primary School
Aimee Durning is an exemplary teaching assistant who goes beyond the call of duty, working additional hours voluntarily and at weekends. The judges noted her “highly unusual level of commitment to learning” and how she is becoming a published author, writing about best practice.
Said to be at the “vanguard” of the development of the role of classroom assistant, in partnership with leading educationalists, Ms Durning is also a contributing author to a research project called Reading for Pleasure, along with a professor from the Open University.
She uses academic literature to inform her own practice at the University of Cambridge Primary School, in Cambridge, where headteacher James Biddulph said: “It is through her selfless and extremely hardworking attitude that her ambition arises – not an ambition for herself but for all children.”
Her voluntary work includes setting up a new regional hub for the Chartered College of Teaching, through which she has led on the development of partnerships and professional networks with other teaching assistants. Her strength in building relationships has enabled her to connect with experts and bring their expertise to hub events.
She is also described as “the strongest advocate for inclusion of children with special educational needs and disabilities”. Mr Biddulph added: “As one of the kindest and most compassionate people I know, Aimee’s key strength lies in the way in which she builds relationships with others. Because of this, she is involved in almost all aspects of school life.”
The judges said Ms Durning “is as committed to supporting the professional development of her colleagues as she is to supporting the learning of pupils. She is a deserving inaugural winner and an ambassador for teaching assistants everywhere.”
Weekly anti-radicalisation workshops, which encourage mothers to speak openly in a supportive environment, are among the community projects run by Bradford Academy, an all-though school with about 2,000 pupils.
The Empowering Mothers Against Radicalisation workshops are run in partnership with the Home Office’s Prevent campaign. But this is just one of the projects through which the school fosters links with its surrounding community and thereby helps change its part of the world for the better.
Other projects include working with The Linking Network – a local charity that brings pupils together from demographically diverse schools to develop reflection and debate around contentious issues – and The Peace Foundation charity, through which pupils have been trained in peace building and have become ambassadors in their communities.
Bradford Academy also has links with sporting clubs, including the Bradford Dragons basketball team and Bradford Bulls Rugby League Club, and it works closely with local businesses, colleges and universities to widen the horizons and raise the aspirations of pupils.
Bradford Academy’s other partners include Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership, the Ahead Partnership, Go Higher West Yorkshire and Bradford Cathedral (to name but a few), all of which are helping pupils develop into active citizens.
The judges commented: “This felt like a brave school. It is very easy for schools in Bradford to put their heads down and not be noticed.”
Admiral Lord Nelson School
Admiral Lord Nelson School is the first in the country to win a double platinum Artsmark award from Arts Council England in recognition of its excellence in cultural education.
The secondary school, which has about 1,000 pupils, cites one of its ongoing challenges as raising the cultural capital of young people in its home city of Portsmouth – where youth poverty is high – and has worked hard to develop its role as an ambassador for the arts in the city while also expanding pupils’ experiences with professional artists.
Judges noted how arts and performing arts at Admiral Lord Nelson are connected to the school’s moral vision around rights for children: it has been given a Rights Respecting Gold award from Unicef, and works with refugees and the Red Cross in Portsmouth.
Plans are now in place across the city to develop a performance/drama project incorporating the Rights Respecting aspect of Admiral Lord Nelson’s work and the theme of “diversity”.
The judges were impressed by the school’s “long-standing commitment to embedding creativity through the curriculum”.
They added: “Admiral Lord Nelson is determined to keep the creative arts and creativity right at the heart of its curriculum, and not just in those traditionally creative areas. It actively demonstrates ways of delivering more traditional subjects – the less obviously creative subjects – in creative ways. It is clear that they think about this all the time.”
Little Forest Folk Wimbledon
Little Forest Folk Wimbledon was the first fully outdoor nursery for children in London when it opened in 2015.
Back then, the concept of outdoor education was relatively unknown here in the UK but the revolutionary idea quickly attracted the attention of like-minded parents.
One parent described her son’s experience as like being “in a fairytale” set in a woodland where children run, jump, climb trees and become creative, resilient learners and explorers. Another parent said: “Children visibly relax and wallow in their forest experiences. Then they rise to natural, developmental challenges while learning about risk taking, problem solving, and creative and critical thinking.”
When parents said they wanted to do more together as families, the nursery’s response was to set up group holidays to Tuscany, which now run twice a year. There are also information days on which parents can learn about outdoor education and the benefits of “risky play”.
The nursery is so popular that it is now offering a reception year after some parents didn’t want their children to leave and head off to primary school.
The judges were particularly impressed by the nursery offering 12 per cent of its places free to parents who can’t afford to pay. “Little Forest Folk is an outstanding outdoor nursery providing daily activities and experiences for children in natural surroundings,” they added.
Joseph Cash Primary School
At Joseph Cash Primary School, in Coventry, more than two-thirds of pupils speak English as an additional language while 40 per cent are eligible for pupil premium. But this hasn’t stopped the school’s reading results in key stage 2 rising dramatically over the past two years, from 40 per cent to 74 per cent of pupils attaining the expected standard.
The English department was praised as “brilliant” by children’s author Nicki Thornton, who visited the school after teacher Ms Sandhu contacted her on Twitter. The Last Chance Hotel author, who was interviewed for the school newspaper, later wrote a letter to pupils saying: “I loved reading your fantastic newspaper reports and seeing all the ideas that came out of your careful reading.”
The team, which was the overwhelming winner in this category, has recently overseen a huge development of the English curriculum. New texts, which are started each half-term, are carefully chosen to be purposeful and raise aspirations, and each pupil receives their own copy. Staff have also introduced debating as a key part of the curriculum to help pupils develop the confidence to speak in front of others.
Physical changes to the school building have been made to enable easier access to the school library, including for families. Since 2016, reading results at key stage 1 have increased by 11 per cent while phonics screening results have increased by 26 per cent in the past two years.
Judges were particularly impressed with the English department’s Cashanory project, where children and staff read and record stories for families to listen to at home via the school’s YouTube channel. “The Cashanory reading aloud scheme for home listening stood out for us as very special but the teachers clearly go the extra mile in all kinds of other ways,” they said. “There is a strong emphasis on talk for learning, debating activities are a special feature...and the teachers generate exciting classroom scenarios for storytelling.”
Feversham Primary Academy
Naveed Idrees has been headteacher at Feversham Primary Academy, in Bradford, for the past eight years, during which time he has taken the school into the top 2 per cent nationally.
The inner-city school lies in one of the most deprived areas in the UK, with high levels of unemployment and crime, and low levels of literacy. It was once “a run-down, unloved building with unhappy staff and a dry curriculum”, yet now is “a place where children achieve beyond their wildest dreams”, and which is attracting visitors from as far afield as Scandinavia and Thailand.
The transformation has been helped by the introduction of a curriculum with a heavy focus on music and drama, which helps pupils with low levels of language and social skills.
The school also provides continuing professional development, training and audits to other local schools.
The judges said of Mr Idrees: “This is a head teacher who is making a huge difference to the life chances of the young people in his care. He is a well-deserved winner.”
Fairfield Primary School
Fairfield Primary School, on the edge of the Lake District, takes a love of the outdoors and physical activity to a new level – not least by having its own climbing wall. The wall, which was designed by pupils following a whole-school competition, is especially popular at break times.
It’s just one of the many reasons why Fairfield beat seven other “very strong” candidates in this category. Judges were also impressed with the Forest School programme, in which pupils regularly visit local woodlands to learn about the natural environment. Equally popular is the school’s Grand Day Out – a free excursion to a local fell that gives about 350 pupils the opportunity to experience the beautiful location on their doorstep.
Innovative, high-quality curricular and extracurricular activities at the school help pupils reach their full potential through developing healthy bodies and healthy minds, and teaching of core subjects is combined with a physical approach. For example, pupils love the fact that they can learn rugby and maths at the same time through a programme offered in partnership with Newcastle Falcons Rugby Club. The Year 6 children are trained to be sport leaders and are presented with a whistle at the end of their training. They can then lead activities at breaks and lunch time.
The healthy lifestyle extends outside the school with a pioneering Active Families programme on Saturday mornings, when pupils and parents participate in activities together and gain advice on healthy eating. The school also provides an Active Adults programme, where adults come into school to participate in a weekly evening exercise programme, which is popular with staff.
The judges were impressed with Fairfield’s innovative, whole-school approach to mental and physical wellbeing.”Fairfield clearly has a strong commitment to active outdoor pursuits, and these are embedded into the curriculum to the benefit of the students’ physical and mental health,” they added.
Oxfordshire Hospital School
Young cancer patients can take part in mainstream lessons and extracurricular activities without physically being in the classroom, thanks to “robots” used at Oxfordshire Hospital School.
A bed-ridden patient is linked to the school through a robot in the classroom, described as an iPad attached to a pole on wheels. Through this robot, teachers can see and hear the child via a live video stream while the child can see and hear things in the classroom.
The groundbreaking Robots in School project also allows pupils to join in at break times because the robots can wheel around the school outside of class.
The judges said: “This gives a little bit more light to pupils with a long- term illness, including cancer and those who are terminally ill. It allows them to be with their friends and part of a school community.”
Oxfordshire Hospital School uses virtual reality to take children on “school trips” which, for many, usually have to be put on hold during treatment. Cutting-edge technologies are also used to connect 15 teachers, who begin each day in different parts of Oxfordshire yet attend a virtual morning briefing via their mobile phones, on which they can deliver news, share ideas and access the support of their peers.
What is more, the school’s poetry podcast, in which pupils share their thoughts on poems that have inspired or entertained them, recently won a prestigious award and was showcased at the annual Oxford Festival of the Arts.
The judges concluded: “Although the standard of entries was extremely high, Oxford Hospital School shone out in the way that it used technology to try to help with a very human issue. A very worthy winner.”
The Observatory School
The Observatory School, Wirral, is a community secondary that caters for 72 pupils who have social, emotional and mental health needs, and autistic spectrum conditions, more than 80 per cent of whom have pupil premium funding.
It lies in the small village of Bidston, near Liverpool, where there is little cultural diversity and 95 per cent of pupils are white British, yet staff have “opened up the world to pupils” by giving them opportunities to work with young people from different countries.
The school has completed projects through the eTwinning network with more than 21 countries. It successfully applied for Erasmus funding with its partner school in France to take 24 pupils to meet their overseas peers on four face-to-face visits.
The judges were particularly impressed with an exchange trip to Finland for five pupils with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and autistic spectrum conditions. There was some concern about how pupils would cope being in the large Finnish school alongside children from another culture and, at first, they were shy and anxious about the experience. But as the visit progressed, they slowly integrated into the larger groups and, by the end of the experience, they had made friends for life with the other children.
“The Observatory School is a shining example of how education can open up and widen pupils’ perceptions of the world,” the judges commented. “By the school’s own admission, they are bound only by their imagination.”
Dronfield Henry Fanshawe School
During nearly 40 years in education, Teresa Roche has made a huge impact on the lives of her pupils.
From an Irish Catholic family, Ms Roche grew up on a council estate in Liverpool. She began her working life as a science teacher and spent 10 years in the classroom perfecting her craft before starting her senior management career.
Her CV includes a “very successful” period as deputy headteacher at All Saints School in Sheffield, where she is credited with moving the school forward, and as headteacher at Springwell Community
College in north Derbyshire, where the impact she had was described as transformational.
“Teresa wanted to be the best possible science teacher, especially in A-level biology, and was meticulous in her preparation and feedback to students,” said a former colleague. ”She expected the best from herself and those learning from her, and pushed all to achieve what they were capable of.”
As headteacher of Dronfield Henry Fanshawe School in Derbyshire for the past 13 years, she is credited with turning the school around. “Her contribution has been nothing short of revolutionary,” said a parent governor. “From the start, she has inspired the school community, employing novel approaches to develop a whole-school collegial community with a genuine sense of ownership and belonging.
“The expectations of staff, students and governors have been raised year on year to create a school in which everyone is given the opportunity, support and inspiration to achieve their own individual potential.”
Ms Roche is due to retire in August.
The Totteridge Academy
The maths department at The Totteridge Academy has made a name for itself as one of the most inspirational and successful maths teams in the country, after dramatically turning maths GCSE results around in the summer of 2017.
Maths results in 2018 then further surpassed expectations by achieving a progress 8 score of +1.34 compared with the previous year’s +1.12. The school’s maths GCSE results in 2016 were in the 78th percentile, moving up to the second in 2017 and then the first in 2018, with the department seventh in the country for its progress.
The judges said the school “really stood out in an incredibly impressive field” after noting the team’s pedagogical ambition and that strategic learning takes place without rows of tables, lecturing or silent textbook work, and without quick-win shortcuts to solving problems.
Students are explicitly coached in team work and held to account for the academic conversations they have during lessons: no group is deemed successful unless all the students can solve the designated problem.
They are encouraged to become autonomous critical thinkers and to develop into non-judgemental, democratic young people. The maths team believes it has a duty to teach the students these core characteristics, alongside fostering a love of the subject.
The judges said: “Students love learning: there are tales of group work and maths chants as much as there are stories of grade 9s. And not content to keep its strategies to itself, the maths department offers whole-school continuing professional development so that other departments can tap into this success.”
Washwood Heath Academy
Abed Ahmed, known on Twitter as @stammer_teacher, was told he could never be a teacher owing to the fact he has a stammer.
Now in his third year of teaching, not only is he producing good results in his maths department at Washwood Heath Academy, Birmingham, but he runs stammer support groups, in his school and others, where he helps pupils to accept their stammer, become confident and be happy.
He also runs groups for adults and gives basic training to school staff about how to support pupils who stammer. His work has been recognised nationally, including by politicians.
Mr Ahmed, who hopes to become a headteacher one day, says that teaching is not always about results but about making a child grow into a good person.
Judges described him as a “phenomenal guy”, and were impressed by the testimony of a friend who revealed Mr Ahmed’s dedication to teaching. “I know that he has struggled to get to where he is,” said the friend. “He was rejected for many of his ITT applications but persevered and went back to train as a teacher at the school he attended.”
“He is going from strength to strength, and is flourishing in his new role as teaching and learning lead within his own maths department.
“He acts as a role model to young people who stammer and does many fun, confidence-building activities like role play and interview techniques. He gives them a chance to get anything off their chest.”
Meadow View Farm School
Meadow View Farm School has created a successful system for helping children with social, emotional and mental health needs, including those who have suffered trauma and those who have been excluded from mainstream education.
Set in six acres of countryside in rural Leicestershire, the school has a farm and a forest setting where it nurtures, supports and develops independence and self-regulation in its pupils and, in some cases, enables them to return to mainstream schools.
Staff face difficult challenges and, according to headteacher Ryan Kilby, they act as “a sea defence in a coastal storm, who must brace themselves for what is thrown at them knowing that, in time, things will settle”.
He said: “Staff ensure they know about the children we work with, that they know what life is like for them, and this enables us to be there for them, no matter what.”
The school has been visited by educationalists from as far afield as Australia and Turkey, who have observed the school’s bespoke learning provision, which was established to meet the requirements of some children with very complex needs.
Part of the school’s approach is to focus on high expectations rather than school rules. “High expectations, if managed properly, can be as powerful and bring about greater success than the strict list of rules that many schools feel forced to adopt,” Mr Kilby added.
Meadow View Farm was a school where staff “have a real understanding of pupils’ potential”, the judges said.
Grendon CE Primary School
Grendon Church of England Primary School, in Northamptonshire, has introduced a mentoring programme with a difference – it is run by pupils for pupils.
The judges were impressed by the programme, in which pupils are trained in helping classmates to self-assess – through one-to-one sessions – their emotions, feelings and social, moral and spiritual development.
The school’s global curriculum sets learning entirely within the context of a specific country, with children immersed in that country’s religion, music, literature, politics, history and geography. For example, when learning through the theme of Brazil, pupils were moved by the issue of Amazonian deforestation and sought action by directly lobbying the Brazilian government, and were subsequently invited to the Brazilian embassy in London to challenge the minister for climate change.
In a separate study of the US, pupils considered the work of Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks, as well as the causes of the American Civil War, as they sought understanding on gender equality, racial discrimination, citizenship, conflict and independence. A school spokesperson said: “Pupils are given the autonomy to explore their own lines of enquiry and translate the skills they acquire into meaningful actions to create real and significant impact at a local, national or international level.”
The judges noted how imaginative learning environments – bearing a closer resemblance to theatre sets than classrooms – form stunning, interactive spaces for children to become fully engaged.
And they were particularly impressed with the whole-school approach to mentoring involving all children. “This is a very happy, supportive school where everyone knows they are valued,” the judges said.
Mark Reed was appointed director of business and finance at Academy@Worden secondary school, in Leyland, Lancashire, in 2014, when he was handed a very long “to achieve” list. The school was at risk of closure, had only 42 per cent occupancy, a poor reputation and was in a perilous budgetary position. It now enjoys full occupancy and has won the local school of the year award four times.
Academy@Worden described the challenges of a falling roll and balancing budgets as its Everest, as it had to grapple with retrospective funding while its intake increased. But Mr Reed has restructured the financial system while at the same time overseeing health and safety, and line-managing a growing team of teaching assistants and clerical, cleaning and kitchen staff.
Accountants working with the school said they were “amazed” at how well he ensures the system runs smoothly, while the headteacher commented: “Mark gives of his time and advice freely, and has empowered us, as a small secondary school, to have a bold vision for our children and their learning.”
His achievements have included £344,000 in contract savings over five years, securing six grants totalling £346,000 and six capital projects totalling £1.8 million. The academy has been provided with a new roof, extended dining room, a cost-effective heating system and improved teaching areas. Mr Reed also finds time to coordinate planning of the academy’s part in the Leyland Festival and the Health Mela.
The judges commented: “Mark Reed is clearly a school business manager at the top of his profession. He has demonstrated excellent practice in all key areas of the role; making financial savings, managing complex staffing models, generating income and improving the school’s environment. This is not a manager who sits in a back office, this is a leader whose impact is evident and whose presence has a positive impact on students’ lives.”
Tapton School Academy Trust and Learning Fields
The science education at Tapton School Academy Trust and Fields of Learning, Sheffield, is simply “fantastic”, the Tes lead judge said. The school’s busy science department has 20 specialist teachers, including an RIS (researcher in school) and three teachers undergoing initial teacher training. Its vision is to become like a university faculty, where teaching sits alongside research and discussion.
Judges heard about the school’s collaborations, including how it works with 50 primary schools in a “swab and send” initiative, through which one school has potentially found a new microbe that is “of great interest,” and that has been sent off for testing.
The school has produced finalists in the UK Young Scientist of the Year competition, while its annual science exhibition provides valuable opportunities for students to discuss and share their science with peers, parents and the community.
The majority of GCSE students at Tapton do separate sciences, a choice that supports a large uptake of science at A level in a sixth form of around 500 pupils. Key stage 3 initiatives include a popular science, technology, engineering and maths club, as well as science trips, while groups of Year 7 girls take part in Ada Lovelace Day to celebrate women in engineering.
The judges said: “The Tapton science department makes science education engaging and inspiring as well as being research and enquiry led...all learners can see the relevance, excitement and potential they have in science.”
Cathedral Academy Wakefield
The motto of Cathedral Academy in Wakefield is “greatness is within” – and its pupils certainly have shown that to be the case.
Around half of the secondary school’s pupils are classed as disadvantaged but their development over the past two years has put the school in the top 10 per cent for progress nationally.
“We teach our students to believe in themselves and that the skills they need to succeed are within their own potential,” said a school spokesperson. “As a collective, we teach that everything is possible for one who believes.”
Such success has come despite a financial crisis two years ago, when a projected deficit of £500,000 meant that the school had to make many cutbacks. Yet not only did it improve outcomes on almost every measure, it worked hard to maintain its much-loved and unique performing arts curriculum.
Cathedral Academy’s ambitious public-speaking programme stands out, and visitors to the school comment that pupils have the most gratitude they have ever witnessed in young people.
The judges praised staff for their “remarkable” achievements. “This school has shown huge progress in a very short space of time,” they said, and this was despite pupils coming “from one of the most deprived areas nationally”.
The Right Honourable, The Baroness Warnock
Few can have made more of a difference to education than Mary Warnock, who remained one of the most influential voices in the area of special educational needs and disability (SEND) right up until her death, aged 94, in March this year.
It’s more than 40 years since she laid down the blueprint for the inclusion of children with SEND in mainstream schools. Her report of the Committee of Enquiry into the Education of Handicapped Children and Young People is still, to this day, the most comprehensive review of SEND to be commissioned by a UK government.
It also inspired the system of statementing for children with SEND, and there is no doubt that its findings still underpin much of what is done today when it comes to supporting the education of children who find learning more challenging than their peers.
Tes editor Ann Mroz said: “I was always in awe of Mary’s intellect, which she combined with practicality and a down-to-earth approach.
“She brought all three of those talents to her report. And while many great and good people set up reviews only to move on, Mary was bold enough to go back to hers. In 2003, she reassessed her initial conclusions, saying that the system she had inspired needed an overhaul as it had become a financial battleground.”
Last year, Tes named Baroness Warnock one of the 10 most influential people in the world of education.
St. Colm's High School, Draperstown, Co. Derry
Staff and pupils at St Colm’s High School, County Londonderry, have been praised for their willingness to take action to improve the environment, not only within but beyond the school. While it began with projects focusing on litter and biodiversity, the school has also looked at improving pupils’ health and wellbeing, inspired by the need not just to clean up broken bottles in a local children’s park but to tackle the culture of under-age drinking, which was leading to the problem.
The school wanted to help young people take pride in their area and manage difficult times in their lives. That was more than 10 years ago, and St Colm’s has since won many prestigious awards, recognising its work on community development, energy and water efficiency, tackling climate change and biodiversity. Regular eco-activities include litter blitzes, bird-feed workshops, painting fences, hedge planting, seasonal planting and making new objects from recycled materials.
“The inclusive nature of some activities helps draw out children who may find elements of school life challenging,” said a school spokesperson. “There’s no discrimination as everyone can plant, paint, dig, go outside and take part – and the fresh air and physical activity, and the friendships that are made, are hugely beneficial. All of these things help develop confident children.”
The judges praised the little things – such as how strawberries and tomatoes grown in the school greenhouse are served in the canteen – and the bigger projects, such as the biodiversity health trail created by the school, where local people have planted more than250 trees in memory of deceased loved ones, and where they come to walk and relax.
“The connections with the community were key to the success of their programme, showing a whole-school approach linking mission, decision making, curriculum, community and communication,” the judges added.