TES Schools Awards 2016 :: Winners
Congratulations to all our winners


The winners of the 2016 TES Schools Awards, announced on Friday 24 June 2016 at the Grosvenor House Hotel, Park Lane, London.

You can also download the 2016 winner's book, showing the full details of the winning projects.

Lifetime achievement award
Beth Harris, Archbishop Temple School
Judges' comments:

“Beth Harris’ career represents everything that any member of a teaching community aspires to,” according to one colleague of the history teacher and department head who has devoted her life to the profession. Her impact on everyone around her is palpable in glowing testimonials from staff and pupils.

Harris’ ability to make topics relevant and exciting has made history one of the strongest departments at Archbishop Temple School, and the subject is consistently among the most popular options. Colleagues say that all pupils have bought into the “Mrs Harris brand” and are eager to participate in the myriad opportunities for exploring history that she provides: from canvassing for mock elections and participating in drama productions to hosting conferences and assemblies on historical events. Harris makes it her priority to involve the whole school community in her inclusive, cross-curricular projects.

Throughout her career, Harris has worked tirelessly to support pupils and colleagues in reaching their potential. She has freely given up her weekends and holidays to run educational classes and visits that have become legendary in the school, and has never failed to find time to mentor other staff.

The judges said: “Beth Harris is the type of teacher that every headteacher is delighted to see on their team. She has made her subject fun, brought it to life and inspired many generations. It is highly fitting that this award should go to one of the unsung foot soldiers of education who continue to make a difference to the life chances of young people.”

Overall School of the year
Boldon Outdoor Nursery School
Judges' comments:

When Boldon Outdoor Nursery School made the bold decision to provide 80 per cent of its early years education outside, the reward was fantastic results and exceptional pupil engagement. The passion and creativity within this setting cannot be denied.

One of the striking aspects of Boldon is that equal importance is placed on academic and personal achievement, with children excelling in both. Activities are designed to develop the whole child, and to ensure that their thinking is constantly stretched through a challenging and stimulating curriculum.

The nursery benefits from exceptional leadership, and skilled and knowledgeable staff who are highly ambitious and absolutely committed to its ethos. Not content with driving up standards within their own setting, team members pride themselves on sharing their forward-thinking approach, working with nurseries in the local area and in countries across the globe, such as Norway and Australia. Boldon provides an inspiring example of how one setting can have an extraordinary impact not only on its own staff, pupils and the wider community but also on the sector as a whole.

The competition for the top prize was tough, but the judges unanimously agreed that the accolade belonged to Boldon Outdoor Nursery School. “It is wonderful to see an early years setting win the overall award for school of the year,” they said. “It is great to shine a light on the fantastic work being done in the early years sector, because it so crucial that we get education right early on.

Headteacher of the year
Karen Hutchings, New Park Primary School
Judges' comments:

When Karen Hutchings became headteacher of New Park in 2001, the primary had been identified as having “serious weaknesses” by Ofsted. But from the moment she arrived, she made it her mission to transform it into a highly successful school, achieving an “outstanding” rating in 2007.

New Park is based in an area of high deprivation in Liverpool: 70 per cent of pupils are identified as vulnerable and 50 per cent speak English as an additional language. Hutchings, embraced the challenge, earning the name “can-do Karen”. In 2015, Ofsted praised Hutchings’ exceptional leadership skills and endorsement of a culture in which nothing is accepted as simply good enough. The school embodies its motto “safe, loved and learning”, and ensures that all children fulfil their potential. Last year, 97 per cent of pupils leaving New Park achieved the expected level for reading, 93 per cent for writing and 97 per cent for maths.

Teachers and governors share Hutchings’ uncompromising drive, and morale is high because staff feel valued and are clear about the part they need to play. Hutchings uses her expertise to mentor new headteachers and partner with struggling schools. She has also set up a programme called “Good to be Good” to address the lack of provision in Liverpool for children with challenging behaviour.

The judges said that the sense of collaboration on behaviour modification shone through, and was eclipsed only by the sheer commitment to excellence of a headteacher who epitomised inspirational leadership.

Teacher blogger of the year
Natalie Scott
Judges' comments:

At a time when people are leaving the profession in droves, secondary English teacher Natalie Scott chose to go back to basics, volunteering with charity Edlumino to educate refugee children in the migrant camps of Calais and Dunkirk. Not only that but she also decided to share her experiences with the rest of the teaching community, passing on the insights she has gained.

While Natalie’s blog covers a range of teaching topics, from revision and initial teacher training to women in education and resilience, it was the entries focusing on her work with refugees that really caught the attention of the judges. Her words and poignant photographs provide a snapshot of what it is like to teach in highly challenging circumstances.

Scott writes with thoughtfulness and sensitivity as she goes back to the root of what teaching is all about to communicate stories that will make readers reflect on their own practice and remember the true power of education. The judging panel felt that Scott’s blog was eye-opening and inspiring, and that she clearly met the criteria of demonstrating intelligence, artistry and impact, as well as support for peers and the profession.

“Natalie’s enthusiasm for teaching and relentless optimism literally jumps from the screen,” the judges said. “While she does not shy away from discussing everyday challenges, overwhelmingly the reader is left with an impression of love for her profession and the children in her care. Reading the comments, it’s clear that Natalie’s attitude is infectious. She inspires other teachers and encourages a sense of community and positivity.”

English teacher or team of the year
Tameside English Team
Judges' comments:

The Tameside English Team is made up of 15 secondary school English departments, which have been working collaboratively for two years. The teachers support each other and share good practice, making the team more than the sum of its parts.

Working in a consortium means that underperforming departments can receive coaching from their more successful counterparts, and gives all English teachers access to a network that they can reach out to for support and advice. Team members also share their expertise beyond Tameside by leading conference workshops on how to improve outcomes.

In a culture where schools are too often encouraged to see each other as competitors, this example of departments working together provides an alternative approach to raising standards that benefits everyone. The results speak for themselves: as a result of the collaboration, the local authority has climbed from the bottom of the performance tables to fourth highest in the Greater Manchester area.

“Out of an outstanding list of entries, the Tameside English Team was the deserved winner,” the judges said. “Through school-to-school collaboration, the team has increased standards of education in the whole local authority and not just in one school.

“The commitment by its members to help schools in difficulty and increase the confidence of its teachers is outstanding. By driving up standards, this team has made the local authority a place where teachers want to work.”

Maths teacher or team of the year
Alcester Academy
Judges' comments:

The maths team at Alcester Academy has had a tremendous year, with a staggering improvement in outcomes grounded in vibrant, innovative and effective teaching methods. Against a backdrop of historical underperformance, a looming inspection, finance issues and a lack of full-time teaching staff, the new team has been instrumental in the school achieving not only its highest results in maths but also its best ever results all round.

The team is led by Christian Seager and Melanie Muldowney, who have brought proven improvement strategies to the school as well as a willingness to take risks and try new things. To drive up standards in Year 11, the pair formed a “super group” of 48 pupils who were taught together. This group was key to the school achieving 80 per cent A*-C grades including English and maths at GCSE last year, up from 58 per cent in 2014.

By encouraging young people to play to their strengths, the team has created and nurtured confident mathematicians. The students are highly engaged and this is reflected in their results, which rose from 75 per cent A*-Cs in 2014 (15 per cent A*/As) to 88.5 per cent A*-Cs in 2015 (24 per cent A*/As). The teachers are also prolific providers of highly regarded and effective CPD – both virtually and face-to-face – enabling them to have an impact outside their own school.

The judges agreed that strong leadership, along with buy-in from the rest of the department, has not only invigorated teaching but also helped to transform outcomes in Alcester Academy, making the team a worthy winner of this year’s award. Sponsored by

Science, technology and engineering teacher or team of the year
Bordesley Green Girls' School and Sixth Form
Judges' comments:

The science team at Bordesley Green Girls’ School is using an innovative programme of study to achieve truly impressive results. Year 7s are taught one hour of science a week in French, the department’s teachers lead the way on flipped learning and pupils take part in an exciting array of extracurricular activities.

The team’s enthusiasm and creativity has increased engagement and attainment in Stem (science, technology, engineering and maths), inspiring many pupils to pursue degrees in science and medicine at university. In 2015, Bordesley’s rating for the English Baccalaureate element of Progress 8 was well above average at 0.65, and science was a major contributor to this. Out of 120 students, 81 entered GCSE core and additional science or triple sciences, and the rest took BTEC science. Uptake in sixth form is also impressive, with Year 12 including 63 chemists, 62 biologists, 11 physicists, 13 applied scientists and 44 mathematicians.

Pupils’ fantastic achievements reflect the determination of the staff, who have helped Bordesley to become the first school in Birmingham to receive a gold award for careers education. The team seizes every opportunity to share best practice by delivering Inset days, advising other schools and regularly presenting at teaching and learning conferences.

According to the judges: “The Bordesley Green Girls’ School and Sixth Form is an inspiring winner of the best science team of the year for the scope, ambition and success of its science department and Stem activities.”

Arts and drama teacher or team of the year
Victoria Education Centre
Judges' comments:

Arts and drama are an important part of education, not least for pupils with special educational needs. The arts and drama department of the Victoria Education Centre (VEC) is committed to overcoming the barriers that young people with physical disabilities and complex health needs face when it comes to fully participating in these subjects. However, the judges felt that the school’s inventive approaches would be equally successful with all pupils, regardless of their needs.

The judges were particularly impressed by how the arts are woven into the fabric of school life. VEC has set up its own radio station, which helps pupils to improve their communication skills and increase their self-confidence. The school also runs an inclusive and varied programme of extracurricular activities, including photography, drama and dance clubs.

The high status of arts subjects at VEC is evident in the fact that two-thirds of pupils in key stages 2 to 5 are working towards an Arts Award. In 2015, the passion and commitment of the department was recognised when the school became an Arts Award Good Practice Centre.

“We were impressed by the breadth of innovative approaches, experiences and opportunities that the creative arts department at Victoria Education Centre has created and applied to meet a range of complex needs,” the judges said. “A variety of learning-enabling technologies, the school-based radio station and multiple external partnerships remove barriers to learning. As a consequence there are high levels of engagement, participation, enjoyment and progress in the arts and drama.”

Community and collaboration award
Broadford Primary School
Judges' comments:

Broadford Primary School’s volunteering programme has helped to connect pupils with their community, enabling them to make a direct and positive impact while at the same time equipping them with the skills and experiences they need for successful lives.

An impressive 76 per cent of pupils have signed up to support community projects that they feel passionate about, such as collecting and sorting food for a food bank, litter picking and seeking donations from local businesses to support people facing housing problems and domestic violence.

Through volunteering, pupils become more enthusiastic about learning and more optimistic about the future, as well as developing strong leadership skills. In an inspiring demonstration of what can be achieved through collaboration, pupils led a Youth Summit to create social change, which brought together 90 pupils from eight schools to volunteer for 2,160 hours over 8 weeks, doing activities such as making care packages and visiting elderly people in care homes.

Pupils have also been awarded a Unilever Bright Future Grant for their #wearekind project, which aims to create a revolution through small acts of kindness.

From a very strong field, the judges felt that Broadford provided a moving example of a school influencing not only the character of its pupils but the character of a whole community. As in so much of what this outstanding school does, there is an enduring determination to succeed.

International (including MFL) award
Abraham Moss Community School
Judges' comments:

To be named international school of the year, nominees had to demonstrate the impact of their strategies on the wider community as well as the school itself. In this respect, Abraham Moss Community School was a clear winner.

Communication can be a challenge at a school where 62 different languages are spoken in pupils’ homes. So Abraham Moss has trained a team of young translators to provide interpretation services to fellow students, parents and staff in languages including Somali, Urdu, Polish, Dutch and Italian. The judges thought that this initiative was particularly innovative and had the potential to inspire schools across the country to set up their own programmes to actively involve bilingual pupils in English as an additional language (EAL) support.

The judging panel was also impressed by the school’s commitment to tackling extremism and its approach to working with new arrivals, including refugees. Through outreach activities, and with the help of highly trained EAL teachers and bilingual teaching assistants, Abraham Moss is able to meet the needs of pupils at all stages of English acquisition, ensuring that even those with little or no English are fully included in the mainstream curriculum.

“The school’s commitment to a global curriculum and to celebrating an international perspective is certainly something we can all learn from and something which it can be extremely proud of,” the judges said. “The young translators team and commitment to tackling extremism are clearly powerful agents for learning, positivity and respect for all.”

Creative school of the year
Middleton Park School
Judges' comments:

At Aberdeen’s Middleton Park Primary, creativity is at the heart of school life. For example, its First World War project embraced every aspect of the curriculum, from a competition about tanks to a film on the Christmas Truce. The programme deepened pupils’ understanding significantly, and Middleton was praised by the inspectorate Education Scotland for providing a “wide range of rich, stimulating and innovative learning experiences”.

Pupils’ confidence, skills and attainment are increased through creative projects such as a “Mission to Mars”, working with an artist in residence to create an art gallery and completing a “Fractions Outdoor Challenge”.

Middleton Park consistently uses technology to develop and share learning. Pupils have uploaded more than 200 films to its Live Learning platform, which has received more than 50,000 hits from about 80 countries. P7 pupils are collaborating with peers at a school in Wuhan, China, to film a production of Macbeth, participating as actors, costume designers, film crew and sound producers.

Middleton Park understands that creativity must involve the wider community and has partnered with organisations including the Scottish Opera and the Sky Academy. The impact is clear – not only has attainment increased across all stages but pupils are also highly engaged and enthusiastic about their learning. The judges said: “An innovative curriculum model that has children ‘live’ in their learning and embraces fresh ideas makes Middleton Park the natural winner in this category.”

Healthy school of the year
Bright Stars Nursery
Judges' comments:

The judges were hugely impressed with Bright Stars’ approach to food education and its healthy eating ethos. The nursery champions the importance of developing good habits from an early age and introducing children to healthy foods in a positive way.

Cooking is at the heart of daily life at Bright Stars, with children learning skills such as listening to instructions, self-direction, independence and problem-solving as they prepare meals and snacks in the nursery’s farmhouse kitchen.

Parents are encouraged to attend cooking workshops, where they learn how to make nutritious dishes with their children that can be repeated at home. Working together in this way has raised confidence levels and fostered great relationships. It has also inspired parents and children to create a cookbook called Where’s Chicken?, which was sold in the local supermarket.

Children learn about food in a real-life context, planting vegetables in the nursery’s garden, and learning about how they survive and grow before they are ready to be picked, washed, prepared and cooked. Children demonstrate a remarkable ability to manage new risks such as chopping, grating, peeling and cooking in an outdoor fire pit. Through these experiences, they develop essential skills for life and learn how to work together.

The judges said: “It was obvious from the submission that health and healthy choices are not a bolt-on but an integral part of improving the lives of children and their families. In an exceptional shortlist, Bright Stars Nursery had the wow factor.”

Early years setting of the year
Boldon Outdoor Nursery School
Judges' comments:

With its innovative and passionate team, Boldon Outdoor Nursery School in South Tyneside was the standout entry in the early years category. Its ethos of learning with and in nature captured the attention of the judges, who were impressed by how staff embraced the challenge of ensuring that children spent 80 per cent of their time outdoors in all weathers.

Boldon has demonstrated just how effectively learning in the natural environment can support development in all areas of the early years foundation stage. Children make rapid and sustained progress, often from starting points below those typical for their age. By encouraging the children to lead their learning and participate in planning activities, teachers promote independence and self-esteem, and foster a sense of creativity and inquisitiveness.

The nursery has been rated as outstanding by Ofsted in two inspections, and received particular praise for its responsive, high-quality intervention procedures, which ensure that children with specific needs aren’t left behind. The team at Boldon has also developed effective strategies to engage parents and build strong relationships with them. In turn, parents feel valued and are supportive of the nursery’s innovative approach.

The judges said: “The panel was extremely impressed with Boldon’s entry, and the team’s commitment to learning outdoors for so much of the school week. Their ethos of celebrating each unique child and giving them time and space for deep learning in the natural world is inspirational.”

Primary school of the year
Vauxhall Primary School
Judges' comments:

The judging panel said that Vauxhall Primary’s relentless drive to innovate and improve, despite already being at the top of its game, made it an outstanding example of excellence in education. One of the top primaries in London and joint first among 125 similar schools nationally, Vauxhall ensures that all pupils succeed, regardless of their socio-economic background.

The school serves one of the most deprived areas in the city, but sustained pedagogical innovation means that pupil achievement is among the highest in the country. Acquiring basic literacy and numeracy skills is seen as fundamental for pupils’ futures, and this is achieved through the implementation of rigorous phonics and maths programmes, and a break from traditional, whole-class approaches in favour of small-group teaching. These strategies help to close the attainment gap between disadvantaged children and their peers by the end of key stage 2.

Vauxhall Primary is committed to enhancing the curriculum by extending the breadth of pupils’ experiences – for example, attending performances at the Royal Opera House, working with mathematicians from the Royal Institution and staging Shakespeare plays at the Peacock Theatre. It also reaches out to other schools in its role as a national support school, contributing to improvement work in London, Devon and Norfolk, and hosting visits by school leaders from around the world.

In a competitive category, the judges said: “Vauxhall Primary School stands out for its extremely high expectations and ambitious and inspirational delivery of an exciting curriculum. Children achieve highly and foster a deep love of learning.”

Secondary school of the year
Stanley Park High
Judges' comments:

Stanley Park High has achieved remarkable outcomes for its student body by focusing on igniting their passion for learning. It is a non-selective secondary in a highly selective area and has been recognised as one of the most improved schools in the Whole Education network.

This is a school with a determined attitude that prides itself on providing an engaging and rounded education. Its vision centres on a broad educational experience, giving young people the skills and knowledge that they need to flourish in life, not just to pass tests.

The school was selected as a case study for the ATL teaching union’s A Curriculum That Counts website, and has been praised by Ofsted for its imaginative approach, which “very successfully prepares pupils for their future lives”. The inspectorate noted that behaviour was outstanding and that good relationships with teachers underpinned pupils’ enthusiasm and willingness to learn.

Stanley Park is outward-looking, contributing to a number of initiatives to support students across different schools. It has established its own innovation and research centre to promote professional development and enable teachers to participate in conferences and share their expertise.

The judges were impressed by the creative, ambitious and supportive culture fostered at Stanley Park. They said: “At a time of huge pressure on schools, the submission from Stanley Park High made it obvious that the welfare and wellbeing of the children comes above anything else.”

Alternative provision school of the year
Limes College
Judges' comments:

The judges agreed that among an impressive shortlist, the application from the Limes College ticked every box. Success rates are high and the college is doing everything possible to help its students, including developing an anti-violence toolkit and establishing a dedicated pastoral support team. There is a lot that is outstanding and unusual here.

The Limes College is a pupil referral unit (PRU) in Sutton for young people aged 5-16. Although it is in a relatively affluent borough of London, the area also encompasses acute pockets of deprivation. When they arrive, many students have attainment below the national average, and 90 per cent have witnessed or experienced domestic violence. The college has responded by finding innovative ways to support learning and tackle some of the challenges young people face – for example, by working with the BBC on a documentary about pornography.

A high proportion of key stage 2 and 3 pupils successfully return to mainstream schools, and almost all students in KS4 leave with recognised qualifications and an apprenticeship or sixth-form placement. Ofsted has rated the college as outstanding, singling out the excellent behaviour of students, and the lack of graffiti and litter. The focus on re-engaging young people is reflected in an average attendance rate of 74 per cent, compared with 69 per cent for other PRUs.

This award recognises that the Limes College is a place where young people are able to make a fresh start and build for the future, and where staff truly believe that every student can excel.