Northamptonshire Education Awards bridges the gap between education and business

Thursday 12th July 2019 was a night to remember as the inaugural Northamptonshire Education Awards took place in an exclusive marque at Old Northamptonians Rugby Football Club.

It was clear from the arrival that the evening was going to be special. Welcome drinks and the opportunity to network in the sunshine set the scene before heading into the spectacular marquee which was lit in the branding of the awards and set off with a twinkle roof. The evening began with All Things Business co-founder, Ben Thomas, explaining his vision of bridging the gap between business and education. After the success of the Northamptonshire Business Awards in 2018 - the idea was to deliver a spectacular awards ceremony that celebrated the amazing teachers and schools we have in this county. The awards recognised fantastic schools, departments and individuals within the education sector; shining a spotlight on the hard working, talented teams in our county, the people who work hard for our community and those who inspire others.

Ben expressed: “There is a disconnect between Northamptonshire’s local education and local business community. I can’t change the world, but I do believe that my colleagues and I can help bridge the gap. Northamptonshire is a fantastic place to work, live, play and importantly, learn. So, to the Teachers, Bursars, Headteachers and Business Managers that are here this evening, do your suppliers have an NN postcode? If not, why not? Northamptonshire is blessed with amazing businesses, 12 of them are in the room this evening. And to the 12 businesses in the room, are you doing enough in your business to support the local education sector? If not, why not? When was the last careers event or World of Work Day that you supported? These dedicated individuals are teaching pupils today whom will be the employees and Managing Directors of tomorrow. So, let’s help each other and aid our next generation with the best possible tools and learning experiences!”

As well as planning the event itself, the team at All Things Code Ltd created a bespoke app as part of the judging process, which scored entries impartially and dictated the finalists in each of the categories. The Northampton Education Awards judging process is totally independent. All award entries were scored against set criteria and marked through a bespoke software-based scoring system before finalists were selected. The judging process was totally independent from the organisers and category sponsors. Once the finalists were announced an independent board finally reviewed and selected the winner from each category.

Back to the evening itself, which also included a delicious ‘school dinner’ themed meal which consisted of sausage and mash and jam roly poly. The presenter of the evening was the inspiring Matthew Burton, star of Educating Yorkshire. You may remember Matthew from the memorable episode of the Channel 4 documentary where he helped a young boy called Musharaf overcome his stammer. His speech was truly inspiring and recognised how special teachers truly are. Matthew also did a fabulous job at presenting the awards through the evening:

First up was English Teacher or Team of the year, sponsored by FG Solicitors. Northampton School for Girls (NSG) proudly walked away with this award. The Judges said this was a particularly difficult category as the finalists demonstrated methods that go above and beyond others that entered this category with their clear passion and development for English with pupils. NSG however, showed tenacity and creativity and clearly has a fantastic team spirit which has an impact on many other subjects throughout the school.

Maths Teacher or Team of the Year, Sponsored by J Sweeney Accountants, went to the team at Northampton School for Boys. The Judges said this award was a result of a department effort over multiple years that goes way beyond the classroom. The additional lunchtime lessons and Maths Challenges are just 2 examples of how the department, which has over 150 years experience, has the determination and creativity to engage the students so Maths becomes fun and interesting - which is clearly reflected in the students attitudes and results on a national scale.

School Business Manager of the Year was won by Claire Griffiths of Henry Chichele School. This award was sponsored by ACS Office Solutions. The judge’s comments were that the 2 finalists of the award were clearly head and shoulders above the other entries in this category, however the decision was incredibly tough as both Claire Griffiths & Gemma Wright are an incredible credit to their schools. However Claire’s passion for “everyone working together for lifelong learning” got her the trophy!

Billing Brook School were worthy winners of the Healthy School of the Year Award, sponsored by Wicksteed Park. The judges said it is clear that all Northamptonshire schools are taking the wellbeing of their students seriously and ensuring healthy food is a key part of this. Healthy meals was a clear priority to all of our finalists.

Next up was Nursery of the Year, sponsored by The Apertus Group. The Judges commented that the three finalists were three very different entities in their own right, but share so many common goals with their ethos, passion and shear cutting edge methods of their support for not only the child, but their extended families and support structure. The 2019 Nursey of the Year was awarded to Pen Green Centre for Children and their Families.

Primary School of the Year Award was sponsored by EBP. Greenfields Primary School was chosen as the well deserved winner. The judges said that this is a school that is at the very heart of the local community. Based in a deprived area with 40% of students eligible for pupil premium it is clear that staff, governors, pupils and parents all share the same school values. The number one priority is the child and that they have the right to excel and every effort is made to ensure that is the case.

Abbeyfield School were voted the winners of Secondary School of the Year! The award was sponsored by Technical Foam Services. The judges said “what a category of amazing leaders, teachers, pupils and huge achievements. This category has had the judges in hours of debate and deliberation. But with Abbeyfields at the start of a new era, with a new vision and values which were voted on by the students, they took the win!”

Next saw Headteacher of the Year Award which was won by the brilliant Andy Burton from Kingswood Secondary Academy. The judges said that Andy shows resilience and determination to deliver a clear vision which made him stand out as a worthy winner. This award was sponsored by Starting Off.

The last two awards were very special and had everyone on the edge of their seats; Overall School of the Year and Lifetime Achievement Award.

Firstly Overall School of the Year, sponsored by The Qube. The judges said that the winner is a school that has not only performed at consistently high levels in the county for many years, it is also performing on a national basis. Academically this school is in the top 4% in England, in the top 0.8% for disadvantaged students and has been in the top 2 academic schools for sport in the last 6 years. The winner was Northampton School for Boys!

The last award of the evening was Lifetime Achievement Award, sponsored by NITAL. This award acknowledges somebody’s devotion to the sector, an individual loved and respected by many who have certainly left their mark within the organisations they have been involved in. This person will be talked about for years to come.

The judge’s comments were “all entries in this category are all fully deserving of this award for their long service and achievements within education. It’s a testament of their dedication to teaching that provides over 120 year of combined service just in this category alone, and is quite simply outstanding! It is rare that a teacher is fondly known as a “legend,” but this winner certainly is.” The winner was Richard Vandersteen from Guilsborough School Academy Trust.

Ben added “A huge congratulations to all of the winners and finalists. I hope we have highlighted and recognised your amazing sector. Keep being brilliant. Roll on 2020!”