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Former Chief Master wins TES Lifetime Achievement Award

John Claughton, former Chief Master of King Edward's School, was recognised at the TES Independent School Awards 2016

Posted by Lucinda Reid | December 01, 2016 | Events

John Claughton, who retired as Chief Master of King Edward’s School, Birmingham in 2016 after ten years in post, has been awarded this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award at the Times Educational Supplement Independent School Awards 2016.

The Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to John in London on Friday 25th November in recognition of the long-lasting impact he has made on both King Edward’s School and education in the region during his time as Chief Master.

The judging panel commented that John had been given this recognition, above all, for his ‘impressive and long-standing commitment to increasing access to an independent education.’

That commitment to accessibility brought about two major initiatives, both of which also won TES awards in previous years. The first was the AP100 Campaign which, over seven years raised £10m for 100 Assisted Places, largely from alumni. This has doubled the number of boys in the school on Assisted Places and made the school the most socially and ethnically diverse independent school in the country.

The second initiative was the school’s outreach programme, through which the school works with over 200 different junior schools and 11,000 pupils in Birmingham and beyond. The wide range of activities on offer include a Year 5 maths competition for over 100 state-junior schools, a summer school for 100 pupil premium children, and a choral performance for 400 children in Birmingham’s Symphony Hall.

The judging panel also commented on the brave decision to abandon A-levels and take up the IB Diploma from September 2010. This change has brought substantial improvement in the academic success of the school’s pupils, in entry to university in general and in particular Oxbridge, and in 2015 the school was chosen as ‘The Sunday Times International Baccalaureate School of the Year’.

On receiving the award, John Claughton said: “I am not sure that I am a suitable candidate for an award for Lifetime Achievement. After all, I spent the first 25 years of my career not doing anything of any great significance or merit. However, I am deeply proud of what everyone at King Edward’s has achieved here in the last decade. I was a boy at King Edward’s 40 years ago, when it was the best school in this country, and I believe that King Edward’s is now one of the very best schools in this country and one of the most interesting and exciting and important schools in this country. The remarkable talent and diversity of the boys who go to King Edward’s makes it a truly wonderful place to be. I count myself lucky beyond words to have had ten years in such a place and I owe a great debt to all the staff and boys that make it the school it is.”

In September, John was succeeded as Chief Master by Dr Mark Fenton, previously Headmaster of Dr Challoner’s Grammar School in Buckinghamshire.

On hearing the news of his predecessor’s award, Dr Fenton said: “I am delighted that the judging panel chose to recognise John Claughton’s leading role in shaping the debate on widening access to independent schools in this country. At King Edward’s, we remain deeply committed to this cause and to securing for the long term the great progress which has been made.”

To see the list of winners, visit

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