A round of applause for the education sector

The Education Business Awards recognise the outstanding achievements of primary and secondary schools from all sectors. The 2012 event, sponsored by RM Education, took place at the Emirates Stadium, London, on 6 December and were presented by Newsnight presenter, author and award- winning journalist Gavin Esler.

Among the achievements that impressed the judges were “the crisis school” Baxter College in Worcestershire, which took home the Outstanding Progress Award for secondary education for its impressive turnaround, and a cultural exchange trip to Kurdistan, northern Iraq, organised by King Edward VI School in Suffolk, which won the The Educational Visits Award. Here are the award winners in more detail.

Baxter College in Worcestershire, for years describe as “the crisis school”, took home the
Outstanding Progress Award for secondary education, sponsored by NEC Display Solutions.

Baxter College, an 11-19 Academy in Kidderminster, serves the seventh most socially deprived ward in England. 50 per cent of pupils are on the SEN Register. 

The Governors appointed a new leadership team, which has been relentless in improving every aspect of the organisation from recruiting outstanding staff, to a curriculum that mattered. 14 national teaching awards have followed plus a place in the top 100 schools list for sustained improvement from 2008 to 2012. Conversion to an Academy has been followed by a successful submission to make its Pupil Referral Unit a Free School from January 2013.

The Outstanding Progress Award for a Primary School went to Iqra Primary School.
Iqra Primary School’s modestly understated principles of ‘improvement, quality, respect and achievement’ provide the overarching philosophy that helps build on the knowledge, skills and experiences that pupils bring to school and prepares them for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of adult life. Iqra gained top marks in the Times Education Supplement’s 2012 School Awards, coming first in the ‘most outstanding’ primary category and runner-up for the overall best UK school. A clear indication, in Iqra’s thriving and productive environment, that staff and pupils – together with parents’ and community members’ support – are dedicated to creating premier standards.

Meanwhile, Sevenoaks School in Kent was presented with the Outstanding Progress in an Independent School, sponsored by Espresso Education and Channel 4 Learning.
Sevenoaks School has an enviable record as a coeducational day and boarding school, providing academic excellence with a strong pastoral and co-curricular emphasis, as well as a global perspective inspired by the International Baccalaureate. The Sunday Times named Sevenoaks as the top performing co-educational independent school in 2012; A testimony to the school’s growing sophistication can be seen in the recently inaugurated Baccalaureate-linked Centre for Innovation lectures announcing top flight academic and professional speakers and inviting local schools and the wider Sevenoaks community to participate.

The Environmental Building Award, sponsored by Big Green Book, went to Richmond Hill Primary School in Leeds. The school is part of a world-class development specifically aimed at drastically reducing every aspect of energy use while making conservation paramount and achieving very low running costs. The school has not only achieved Passivhaus certification, E
F but has actually improved on the air tightness target of the Passivhaus Institute itself. The school will use up to 80 per cent less energy than a conventionally built equivalent facility, reducing carbon emissions by 60 per cent without the use of renewable energy. To help achieve superior levels of thermal insulation a solution was found for the eradication of cold bridging between the building’s piled foundations and steelwork frame, by using high-strength insulation normally used in industrial process plant installations. The walls and roof of Richmond Hill School achieve optimum thermal insulation effectiveness, far exceeding the requirements of the current building regulations.

Meanwhile, Stanley Park High School took home the School Building Award for its £35m building that opened earlier this year. It won the distinguished London Design Award for a new build, with judges declaring it had created the ideal space to “fire students’ enthusiasms”. The award celebrates how new buildings contribute to the quality and environmental sensitivities of the capital. The project’s internal public way and relaxed spaces are important aspects sparking students’ outlook and artistic creativity. And the architects’ scrupulous approach to seamlessly mixing new with the old reflects thoughtful understanding of how to captivate 1,400 pupils.

Of particular note is the way the site is divided into four small logically arranged schools. These are ‘World’, specialising in the humanities and foreign languages; ‘Performance’, concentrating on PE, dance, music, drama and media; ‘Trade’, where vocational subjects, technology, art
and design are studied; and ‘Horizon’, a specialist school for children with autism. The central space at the heart of the School, designed to resemble the corporate headquarters of a large-scale company, provides an ideal learning space for all students. It contains facilities for ICT and a variety of seating arrangements for students to learn inside and outside formal lesson times.

The School Security Award was won by Clissold Park School thanks to its new approach to access control. Clissold Park School sought a more reliable and flexible way of controlling access through 40 doors in the extensive day-to-day movements of everyone across the site. The previous arrangement of keys and codes proved to be both impractical and unreliable. The new system uses electronic locks activated by key cards that can be programmed to allow or restrict access to different parts of the building. It enables teachers and assistants to use cards that allow them to pass freely about the school. For cleaners, access may well be restricted to certain parts of the school deemed relevant and that fit in with certain times of the day. In this case Clissold School added another layer of security by personalising the cards with photographs to double as staff IDs. The technology allows for a vast array of configurations, including the ability to lock down the entire system should circumstances require it. Scheduled opening and shutting can be set for toilets, common room, dining area, etc. Operating in a wireless environment where the original doors and locks can be retained, readers on the main entry and exit points log arrival and departure times, providing another level of efficiency with time and attendance functionality.


The Educational Visits Award, sponsored by WST Travel, went to King Edward VI School in Suffolk. The school has a strong track record of fostering internationalism in the school, and made a significant breakthrough in the UK by making a bold and carefully planned cultural exchange trip to Kurdistan, northern Iraq. With the backing of the Youth Sport Trust, British Council, and funded by the European Union, the school’s intrepid leadership took students as part of an education festival celebrating unity in sport. It was a mutual effort to learn from each other the effect of which was to show there is a degree of normality in the country and, despite a high level of security awareness required for the trip, the school found stereotypes could quickly be cast aside. King Edward VI has a constantly busy schedule of hundreds of off-site visits that take students near and far. That has ranged from a day out at Rockbourne Roman Villa, to a weekend at our Rural Studies centre, Lovaton, in Dartmoor, to a three week expedition in Indonesia. Again, over the recent period and looking forward Fishbourne’s Roman Palace, Toothill Observatory and a language trip to Salamanca, Spain are just a few on the itinerary.

St. Matthew Academy, London scooped the School Catering Award, sponsored by Bernard Matthews. It has achieved Healthy School status by investing extensively in its catering facilities to deliver restaurant standard healthy breakfasts, snacks and lunches to its students. The quality of food at the Academy has rapidly improved over recent years through astute purchasing; developing reciprocal connections with local suppliers of eggs, meat and vegetables; and producing a variety of nutritional fresh meals every day. Tremendous educational benefits have been observed due to a better standard of food available for the students; behaviour has improved and it is even believed better attendance is down to the psychological effect of quality food availability since pupils don’t need to abscond to buy food they want to eat.

Meanwhile, the Corpus Christi Catholic Sports College took home the Sports Award, sponsored by Collinson. Although set in an affluent area of Preston, a high proportion of Corpus Christi Catholic Sports College students come from the most deprived local areas, with 33 per cent on free school meals. The school is an 11-16 state school with 782 students, and became a sports college in 2005. Through the Football Foundation, and a former pupil, it has developed excellent sporting facilities, and has gradually built up an excellent PE Department with an array of sporting backgrounds. Corpus Christi believes that by using sport as a tool to increase attendance, examination results, and confidence, the school is preparing students for the world beyond. Over a third of each year group takes a qualification in PE, and individual mentor meetings with the students help them to take the course that is suitable to them. After school clubs are at the heart of the department and play a vital role in raising students’ confidence and self belief. Every year, Corpus Christi takes part in the Living for Sport initiative through Sky Sports to focus on a group of students in school who are either badly behaved or lack motivation/self esteem. The school is currently working with a group of girls in year 9, using sport to develop confidence and social skills.