Independent stars recognised at TES awards

King Edward’s Birmingham and Wellington College amongst those awarded at annual TES Independent School Awards

Last week’s TES Independent Schools Awards saw numerous schools recognised for their commitment to teaching, governance, leadership and more, with 13 schools awarded.

Winners attended a black-tie event in at the Grosvenor House Hotel, London, hosted by Michael Portillo, where over 400 attendees celebrated all that is outstanding in independent schools across the UK.

The winners

King Edward’s School, Birmingham, winner of the ‘Best Independent-Maintained School Collaboration’ at the 2015 TES Independent School Awards, is celebrating their third award win since September.

Their extensive outreach programme, which engages with over 11,000 primary school children and 450 teachers from 190 schools within the local community each year.

The outreach programme runs activities for primary school children designed to extend learning and raise aspirations, including Living History workshops, city-wide maths competitions and sports coaching. Primary teachers also have the opportunity to develop their own teaching through professional development events either run or hosted by King Edward’s School.

The two awards the school had previously received to make the ‘hat-trick’ are ‘The Sunday Times International Baccalaureate School of the Year’, which it received last week for its outstanding performance in the IB Diploma this year, and the Chief Master, John Claughton, was named ‘Best Head of Public School’ by Tatler magazine in September.

John Claughton, Chief Master of King Edward’s School, said: “It is a proud moment for the school that we should win three national awards in the same term. The TES award is due reward for the most extensive Outreach programme run by any independent school in this country. That programme is fundamental to the purpose of the school to be visible and open to all bright boys, whatever their background.

“In the course of the year, hundreds of boys and over 50 teachers are involved and its remarkable growth and success comes from the energy and ambition of Tom Arbuthnott, our Director of Outreach. The Sunday Times award celebrates our biggest educational step in abandoning A Levels and choosing a post-16 curriculum that is a true education. As for ‘Head of the Year’, I told the Tatler that what mattered wasn’t the head, but the school. This is a truly remarkable place and it’s the boys that make it that way.”

Wellington College took the ‘Boarding Initiative of the Year’ award for its ‘simple yet effective way to engage parents’ in the pastoral understanding and development of their children.

Wellington College collect their award from Michael Portillo

While Wellington had no trouble getting large audiences for events that had an academic theme, it struggled to ignite the imagination of parents when it came to attending pastorally themed talks. The school sought a way to improve parental engagement in the pastoral understanding and development of their children, educate them in the key issues affecting adolescents and highlight what it was doing to support them.

Research was carried out to establish the best weekly time for a meeting while parents’ advice was sought on the topics they felt that they needed more information on. As a result, parental “masterclasses” on late Saturday morning (with lunch included) have been attended by 76% of parents over the course of the year.

St Joseph’s College in Reading has won the ‘Independent School of the Year’ award at the prestigious 2015 TES Independent School Awards, as well as winning the key category of ‘Financial/Commercial Initiative of the Year’.

St Joseph’s implemented a strategic and financial plan that appeared counter-intuitive in reducing fees and increasing investment. Yet the decision was a successful one that not only paid dividends for the school but set an example to the rest of the sector. 

Pupil numbers have risen and the school is now a role model for other schools. Indeed, it will make many other schools reconsider their approach to increasing fees.

Andrew Colpus, Headmaster of St Joseph’s, is thrilled that the school’s bold strategy and its subsequent success have been recognised. “It was a real leap of faith for our Governors to reduce the fees, and to pair this with significant investment was something that had not been seen previously in the sector. However, as a team we had huge conviction that it was the right thing to do, and this has been proven in the significant and consistent rise in pupil numbers across the school, from Early Years pupils aged three right up to our sixth formers aged 18.” 

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