EB Awards returns to Emirates in December

The winners in 20 different categories will be announced on December 6 at the Emirates Stadium in London, where the shortlisted entrants will enjoy a champagne drinks reception before sitting down to a four course luncheon. The organisers are delighted that these winners will announced by Newsnight presenter, author and award winning journalist Gavin Esler. Born in Glasgow, Esler was educated at the independent George Heriot’s School, Edinburgh, and gained a BA in English and American literature from the University of Kent and a MA in Anglo-Irish literature with distinction from the University of Leeds. He entered journalism via the Belfast Telegraph and has two honorary degrees, including a Doctorate in Civil Law from the University of Kent at Canterbury.

Esler joined the BBC in 1977 as a Northern Ireland reporter, and extended his role after joining Newsnight in 1982. Esler was then appointed Washington correspondent and later chief North America correspondent for the BBC, in charge of shaping coverage across the whole continent for the corporation, and covering both the earlier George H. W. Bush and Clinton administrations.

Once again, the organisers have been hugely encouraged by the efforts of schools in all sectors in what has been a challenging year, with several policy changes and funding issues occupying plenty of time.

The Academy explosion has given food for thought for next year’s categories, but with plenty of established Academies to be held as examples of best practice, the 2012 sector categories are sure to be hotly contested. The Outstanding Academy Award, this year sponsored by Smoothwall web filtering and security, is presented to the specialist academy that can demonstrate outstanding progress both in its specialisms and in general education. In 2011, it went to the Globe Academy in London, which over three years has successively improved its GCSE grades, including during the period of adjustment from its predecessor school into the Academy in September 2010. In 2009 grades for five-plus GCSE’s at A*-C, including English and Mathematics, stood at 35 percent; that increased to 45 per cent in 2011. For any combination of five GCSE’s at A*-C, a more significant 50 rising to 84 percent in 2011. The broader picture revealed commercial potential in the recent Design Museum’s Virtual Ventura Award to students, while the Academy was the only UK school to host a visit from President Obama and Prime Minister David Cameron.

The Academy Partnership Award, sponsored by ESPO, last year went to Manchester Communication Academy, a new high school and community facility with three principal partners – BT, Manchester College and the City Council. All contribute to the school’s strategy, aimed at dramatically reshaping educational and real world business opportunities. Collaborative arrangements are forming through social media, innovative technology, science and engineering, sport and leisure which, in combination with key partners, will open up a broad range of possibilities for learning advancement and employment. The Academy is involved in the Community Reports’ Programme, focus groups on new technology, coordinating youth activity across North Manchester, working with a junior warden programme, including projects to highlight science, engineering, mathematics and ICT. Ambitiousness for such an array of educational action is exemplified by engineering: students know its national weight – backed by the Royal Academy of Engineering; and can see its exciting potential – creating a car that travels at 1,050 mph. Winning enthusiasm, locally applied.

Independent sector
In the independent sector, the Award for Outstanding Progress, sponsored by Espresso Education and Channel 4 Learning, will be presented to the UK Independent school that has made outstanding progress in the management of its facilities, finances and human resources and can demonstrate an increase in the educational performance of the school. Examples of collaboration between independent and state schools will feature in the shortlist. Last year, St. Joseph’s School in Cornwall came out top of this category. From impressive exam results and sporting prowess to national music and ballet success, alongside community fundraising, the school is increasingly sought after. With a substantial increase in pupil numbers, the school’s continued commitment to maintaining small classes remains a bedrock priority. St Joseph’s combines broad, challenging, quality education with excellent pastoral care and extra-curricular opportunities. High in self-esteem, pupils respect others and their school environment, underlining the school’s aim to provide ‘a firm foundation for life’.

The School Recruitment Award, sponsored by Eteach, will recognise an educational establishment which has invested in its recruitment methods and processes to ensure a timely intake of appropriate teaching and support staff. The James Brindley school in Birmingham picked up last year’s trophy for its excellent recruitment practice where every applicant is seen teaching, they are shortlisted, observed in the candidates’ home school environment and, most importantly, in their relationship with pupils and colleagues. Once satisfied, their skills and ideas for adapting current knowledge are examined. A pupil panel, with support, astutely formulates questions and is encouraged to explore answers further if they do not understand when deciding on a preferred candidate.

Special educational needs

Two awards are presented to schools for SEN, both sponsored by sensory development resource company Mike Ayres Designs. The SEN Inclusion Award is presented to the UK mainstream school that can demonstrate an increase in the quality of care and education services provided to students with SEN. Last year, the award was presented by Mike Ayres to Baxter College in Worcestershire. Since 2004, the College has relentlessly reshaped itself and directed its educational principles to eradicating the ‘crisis school’ image that arose in a ward considered the seventh most deprived in England. Baxter College’s equal opportunities, attitudes and values, cohesive school life, curriculum flexibility and proactive community perspectives, have a critical impact. Such is the resolve and creative teaching expertise the school also runs nurturing sessions for five local primaries.

The SEN Provision Award is for specialist SEN establishments, In 2011, it went to James Brindley School in Birmingham as a result of the outstanding care, guidance and support that the school provides its students. Parents readily explain their view of the exceptional assistance they gain in helping them understand and manage their children’s needs, especially when children are returning to mainstream schools or are moving to the next stage of their education.

Outstanding progress
The Outstanding Progress Award for Secondary schools, sponsored by NEC Display Solutions, went to an extremely worth recipient last year - Bethnal Green Technology College (BGTC) in London. Four years on from ‘special measures’, BGTC has made another leap in GCSE results, achieving 80 percent five-plus A*-C grades, including English and Mathematics. That took them from 27 percent in 2007 and on to 57 percent in 2010.  Much of that has been guided through strong, long-term management, carefully targeted resources and high retention of committed teachers. Creating a tightly structured environment and staff development programme, assisted by Teach First, BGTC transformed other schools’ excluded students and created a new culture of expectation.    
The Educational Visits Award, sponsored by WST Travel, went to South Bromsgrove High School in Worcester, which has operated the Duke of Edinburgh Award for over 25 years. The scheme’s success led to them becoming the largest school-based centre for the Award in the country, with over 500 students taking part annually. Volunteering, physical activity, skills, and an expedition form the core programme.

ICT Awards
Among many recent changes in education, ICT is an area where schools continue to innovate in the way they apply technology to the curriculum. This year, both the ICT Innovation and ICT Facility categories will be presented by the headline sponsor RM Education, and will reveal UK schools that have delivered engaging ICT projects, and have invested in first class facilities in which to teach.

Last years’ Innovation winner, Costello College in Basingstoke developed an online curriculum with learning content created using screen recording software. This enables pupils to access learning resources outside of lessons, both in and outside school, and provides consistency of learning. Teachers use the Virtual Learning Environment to give pupils access E E to materials ‘on-demand’. Teachers create screencasts by recording activity on their computer screens,  simultaneously recording their voice explaining what is happening on screen. Pupils can review lessons that took place months previously with exam and test advantages. Screencast videos are made available online for pupils to review during the lesson or as part of homework assignments.

First ipad school
The ICT Facility Award went to Longfield Academy in Kent - the first in England to venture school-wide use of the iPad, aiming to revolutionising learning by giving students an improved learning flexibility - anytime, any place. The ability to access up-to-date interactive information and easy links to their work will help students achieve better results through such a different learning style. Network access will be monitored while pupils are at school, with a ‘staffed cloakroom’ for storage. This is ICT as an essential skill for life, encompassing the mastery of technical skills and techniques. But Longfield also aims to engender this understanding to be applied to such kills purposefully, everyday life and employment. The school’s ICT capability is fundamental to that participation and engagement in modern society.

The Sports Award, sponsored by Collinson, is presented to schools that show committment to developing the sporting skills of its students through the provision of excellent facilities and coaching programmes. In 2011, The Oratory School came out on top for its commitment to promote a ‘sport for all’ ethos. Pupils at Oratory School reach out to pupils from around the Thames Valley and beyond, bringing together young people from different countries enriching their experiences.

The School Catering Award, sponsored by Bernard Matthews, always attracts many examples of best practice, both in healthy foods and in sustainable catering. Last year, Crondall Primary School had a policy to use as much organic produce and seasonal fruit and vegetables as possible, including poultry and meats from local organic farms. Long before Jamie Oliver’s inspirational TV series highlighted the need for significant improvement in the UK, Crondall were already embarking on their own school meals crusade: nothing fried or processed enters their kitchen.

In 2011, Crocketts Community Primary School in the West Midlands received the Department of Education Award for Sustainable Schools by creating a school they all wanted through a commitment to the highest possible levels of sustainable construction and innovation. Since environmentalism runs throughout the school curriculum and their everyday activities, it was only natural that pupils would work closely with architects on the new designs for the school building from the very outset. Last year, Crockets also picked up the Environmental Building Award, sponsored by Big Green Book.

The Science Award, sponsored by Lab Systems Furniture, will be presented to an educational establishment that has excelled in the providing innovative methods in teaching science subjects including biology, chemistry and physics. Pate’s Grammar School in Cheltenham, last years’ winner, runs Science Festival events for both visiting students and the school’s younger students, showcasing achievement. In Science and Engineering week – from bridge building to rat dissection – science thereby becomes more popular and engaging. That limitless attainment ethos is took the Physics Department to Cern in Switzerland, to discover the excitement of fundamental research and to take a look behind the scenes of the world’s largest particle physics laboratory. L

Further information
The Education Business Awards is supported by the British Educational Suppliers Association, Naace and nasen. The shortlist will be announced on ebawards.co.uk from November 8th.