TES celebrates exceptional schools

Janet Downs's picture
"The TES School Awards are a real showcase for schools involved in best practice. It’s crucial that all schools learn from those that are doing things exceptionally well, or trying out innovative ideas. If you want to shout about your achievements, and gain widespread publicity and credit for your great work make sure you enter."

That was Michael Gove’s advice to schools – all schools, not just his favoured academies and free schools. Schools took his advice – the shortlist covered all parts of the UK and all types of schools.

The winners have just been awarded their prizes. They were:

Overall outstanding school of the year/special school of the year: The Springfields Academy, Calne, Wiltshire.

Secondary school of the year: Wade Deacon High School, Widnes, Cheshire.

Primary school of the year: Iqra Community Primary School, Bradford

Outstanding leadership team: James Brindley School, Birmingham.

Headteacher of the year: Bushra Nasir, Plashet School, East Ham, London

Inspirational teacher of the year: Lauren Dalgarno, Conyers School, Yarm, Stockton-on-Tees

Resource Contributor of the year [to the TES resources bank]: Ben Cooper, St Paul’s School for Girls, Birmingham.

Outstanding Business/financial team or initiative: Corpus Christi Catholic Sports College, Preston, Lancashire.

Outstanding sustainable school or community partnership: Edwalton School, Nottingham.

Outstanding sporting initiative or partnership: Portree Primary School, Portree, Isle of Skye.

Healthy eating: St Joseph’s Specialist School and College, Cranleigh, Surrey.

Outstanding literacy or numeracy initiative: Gosberton Primary School, Spalding, Lincolnshire.

ICT visionary in education: Dan Roberts, Saltash.net Community School, Saltash, Cornwall

Lifetime achievement: Denzil Shepheard

All good schools – all excellent teachers. What a shame that the Department for Education website only sings the praises of academies and free schools when so many other types of school are doing a fantastic job.

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Ricky-Tarr's picture
Mon, 16/07/2012 - 13:25

What Janet isn't telling us:

Springfields Academy is, no surprise, an academy. Saltash.net is an acdemy. Wade Deacon has had its application to convert agreed and will be an academy in September. The James Brindley School has also decided to pursue academy status. St Paul's Girls Birmingham and Corpus Christi, Preston are voluntary aided faith schools.

Most of the rest are primaries and special schools.

So, another way of putting this is that only one secondary in the TES list is a local, LA run community school and content to remain so!

Rebecca Hanson's picture
Mon, 16/07/2012 - 22:21

Many secondaries were content to remain LA schools Ricky, but their heads were forced or bullied into changing. Which would you rather see - your school become an academy or special measures and the best staff destroyed?

'We have was of making schools be not content to stay LA schools'

Sarah's picture
Tue, 17/07/2012 - 08:43

I think you've rather missed the point Ricky. It's not that Academies can't be successful - the very fact that the first convertors were all outstanding schools means that there is likely to be a higher proportion of high performing schools among the new Academies. The point is that this government is failing to recognise and promote the excellent work undertaken by community and voluntary schools supported by their local authority. There is a pretence that Academy status is a magic bullet which leads inexorably to high quality when that has been demonstrated not to be the case by an analysis of the relative performance statistics of maintained schools and Academies.

Evidence shows that the principle reason why schools opted to convert is financial - they believe there's more money in it for them as an Academy, and many of them pursued it for that reason regardless of whether that had an impact on the educational chances of other children in their communities attending less popular schools. The second most common reason for conversion is a fear that they will be left behind as other schools in the area convert - I have heard this said by many heads and governing bodies over the last two years.

Community schools already had the option of distancing themselves from local authorities by converting to trust or foundation status - the fact that so few of them opted to do so demonstrates that this isn't really about whether or not they value the support of the local authority.

The flood of convertors is now a trickle in many authority areas because the financial incentives are diminishing - and the overwhelming majority of primary schools, including thousands of outstanding community primary schools, have never had any interest at all in converting which explains the DfE's approach to forced academisation and the increasing number of primary schools going into Ofsted categories.

Gove has yet to provide any compelling evidence that free schools or convertor Academies are able to do anything that a successful maintained school cannot already do. Most Academies are not using any of the so-called freedoms they have been given and all of the successful strategies they use can be deployed with equally good effect in maintained schools.

Janet Downs's picture
Tue, 17/07/2012 - 09:45

sarah - you are correct. There is no evidence that free schools or converter academies are able to do anything that a successful maintained school can't already do. A Sutton Report as early as 2007 warned that academy conversion should not be regarded by politicians as a "panacea for a broad range of educational problems". It found that academies had qualities which were not unique to academies. It also found that non-academes appeared to be as successful in similar cicumstances. This finding was endorsed by PriceWaterhouseCoopers in 2008: where academies were improving, they were using similar methods to those found in improving LA schools (see FAQs above for more info).

In other words, good schools, whatever their structure, share the same good features. What a pity the Government doesn't spend more type analysing what these good features are than pushing academy conversion as the only possible structure for a good school. By implication, then, all schools that are not academies are bad. The TES awards show this to be false.

Janet Downs's picture
Tue, 17/07/2012 - 09:50

sarah - you are correct in saying the Government is failing to recognise the good work done by non-academies which are still the vast majority of state schools in England.

I find it quite odd that the list of winning schools should be analysed to such a degree that even those winning schools who were not academies at the time are praised as being academies because they've decided to convert (for reasons you have outlined). It's as if someone is shouting, "Yah, Boo... There all academies... na-na-nah-na! And those that aren't academies are voluntary aided... Community schools suck, so there!"

The point of this post was to celebrate the work of excellent schools whatever their type. It would be churlish to downgrade the achievement of some schools just because they are, say, academies. I salute them all. The full short list is below.


Ricky-Tarr's picture
Tue, 17/07/2012 - 13:58

The point was not 'Yah Boo...' but a corrective to the implication that the TES list was somehow a vindication of the values of LSN, when actually what unites most of these schools (apart from excellence of some sort) is their decision to reject the urgings of the Anti-Academies Alliance and LSN.

andy's picture
Tue, 17/07/2012 - 16:31

My perception of the situation has been that the first wave of converter academies were motivated by 2 key incentives (a) the ability to be as independent as they wished to be from their LAs (b) direct funding from DFE that enabled them to side step the traditional LA top slicing, and (c) (alleged) curricular freedom. The latter has proven to be somewhat disingenuous because all schools are still held to account/measured against the DFE benchmark targets and league tables through Ofsted - so not much freedom there then. The criteria was that they were Ofsted Outstanding and the Governing Body sought the conversion status.

The second wave was then opened up to schools that were Ofsted Good. Therafter it has been a mish-mash of Good schools and DFE decision post an Ofsted inspection and recommendation.

Whether the financial incentives are being withdrawn or are reducing because of the impact of auterity budgeting at the centre, I do not know but the indepedence from LAs still holds good. That said, even this must be balanced by the acknowledgement that converters have simply swapped the LA for centralisation from DFE. On that score I'd postulate that for some this is chosing between the lesser of 2 evils (although where the balance lies rather dependents of the quality of the LA involved).

What was for me uplifting was Janet's concluding comment at 09.50 17/7/12:The point of this post was to celebrate the work of excellent schools whatever their type. It would be churlish to downgrade the achievement of some schools just because they are, say, academies. I salute them all. "

This is a reflection of the original purpose, spirit and intention of the LSN website:

"... it [ the local school] is a vehicle for high achievement and a force for collective good, often drawing disparate communities together through the common goal of educating their children. Yet too often local state schools get a bad press for no other reason than people are ignorant of their achievements and potential ... We aim to promote the cause of local state schools by celebrating their achievements ..."


For me that means the achievements of 'all' state schools irrespective of their basis: State, VA, VC, Academy or Free School.

Janet Downs's picture
Tue, 17/07/2012 - 16:55

Bless you, andy.

Rl1b5K's picture
Mon, 05/08/2013 - 15:37

621195 894835just couldn

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