Award Nominees

This year there are 8 different award categories, each one specifically designed to reward hard-workers, innovators and exceptional school leaders across the education sector. Scroll down to see more information on each nominee.

School Business Leader of the Year

Sian has worked in education since 1999 and has been in her current role as an Executive Business Manager for United Learning since 2018. Sian works with three secondary schools in South Manchester: Manchester Academy, Stockport Academy and William Hulme’s Grammar School, overseeing all aspects of business support functions and working closely with Principals and UL central office staff. In addition Sian takes on a group wide role supporting new schools joining the MAT and other colleagues with their professional development needs.

Sian has worked in both the independent and state sectors, as well as for local authority maintained schools and academies. She has been a business manager in both primary and secondary settings and has significant project management experience. In addition, she is currently a Trustee of a secondary academy.

Having paused her career as a programmer to raise a family, Cindy began her education career accidently by becoming a governor of her children’s’ school in 1997, also fulfilling the role of Chair for twelve years. This developed her passion for education so she took on a paid role in another school, embarking simultaneously on the NCSL School Business Manager Development programme, passing the Certificate, Diploma and Advanced Diploma in quick succession. Having worked for a while as an advisor for the LA she then secured the SBL position at Ferndown Upper in 2007 where she has been ever since.

As Trust Business Manager and Chief Financial Officer at Veritas MAT, Alison has been instrumental in developing both Governance and Business Team structures and leads across all business areas. Alison has led the Project Management of schools joining the trust. Successfully gaining an MBA in Educational Leadership and Management in 2016, she is also accredited as a Fellow of ISBL. She has delivered training in Finance and Risk on the NPQEL and NPQH programmes and spoken at national conferences. Alison has been proud to develop her team based around the ISBL Professional Standards; now well positioned to support trust growth.

Paul Martin is the founding Business Director of the London Academy of Excellence Tottenham, a 16-19 free school opened in Tottenham September 2017. Having originally graduated with a degree in Computing and Business he pursued a career in IT & Estates management working for a Japanese university before joining LAET. Paul led the Academy’s COVID response, orchestrating a fundraising strategy which equipped disadvantaged students to succeed and secured ongoing corporate support for future cohorts. His work played a central role in LAE Tottenham being awarded the Sunday Times State 6th Form of the Year 2020-21.

Leadership Team of the Year

Surbiton High School, is a leading independent school for boys (age 4-11) and girls (age 4-18). The School inspires, encourages and empowers its pupils to fulfil their potential through an academically rigorous curriculum and a breadth of co-curricular activities, all underpinned by an embedded well-being programme and strong pastoral care. Surbiton High School is an innovative and forward-thinking school mindful of the ever-changing landscape and future skillset required of its young people. The broad, balanced, bespoke curriculum and wealth of opportunities allows all pupils to find their niche and become the absolute best version of themselves.

Beacon Academy is located in Cleethorpes in NE Lincolnshire, an area of socio-economic challenge. It has been transformed since being under threat of closure in 2017, with just 192 pupils, having undergone dramatic change and achieving an Ofsted ‘Good’ judgement. The school population is currently c500 and growing, being the most heavily subscribed secondary school in the borough. Its distinctive ethos of ‘human scale education’ sets it apart from its peers. All pupils are known as individuals, actively supported and provided with opportunities to achieve academically and to develop as a young person, embracing all the world can offer.

Bulphan Church of England Academy is a friendly village school in Thurrock. We are proud to be a part of the Vine Schools Trust, a family of schools throughout Essex. Bulphan is a school with exceptionally strong leadership that has led to dramatic transformations, not only for the school, but also the staff, parents and children. This leadership team have been recognised by SIAM’s as a shining example of Christian leadership.

Berkhamsted School's Group is a family of independent schools in Hertfordshire combining both single-sex and co-educational teaching from Day Nursery to Sixth Form. Led by Principal Richard Backhouse the School's Leadership Teams comprise of a group wide Executive of 11 people and local Senior Management Teams. As an organisation we are committed to 'Developing Remarkable People' whether that is our nearly 2,000 student body or our 500+ staff.

School of the Year - Sponsored by

Highfurlong Special School is a 4 times outstanding school for children with complex medical and general learning needs. We are a 2 – 19 provider located in Blackpool, Lancashire. Highfurlong has doubled in size in the last two years and we now have 110 pupils on roll. Our mission is based on the key words Inspire, Challenge, Believe. Our bespoke curriculum prepares our pupils for all stages of life and enables pupils to leave school with qualifications and a genuine chance to succeed. Highfurlong was crowned ‘Britain’s Happiest Secondary School’ in 2019 and continues to go from strength to strength.

Oaks Primary Academy is located in Maidstone, Kent. The academy is part of the Leigh Academies Trust and both are committed to providing outstanding learning and teaching to a diverse and vibrant learning community located in an area of high deprivation. Feedback around learning is delivered through pupil-teacher/pupil-peer discussions known as ‘conferencing’. Through this, pupils continue to have an informed extensive knowledge and deep understanding of their learning. Over recent years, the academy has regularly been in the top 5% of high-performing Kent primaries, in the top 3% of primary schools in the country and key stage two results categorised as “Well Above Average”. In September 2021, the academy was authorised as an IB World School and graded outstanding by Ofsted.

We feel that we are an exceptional school. The improvements made over the last four years have been remarkable and the impact of our carefully designed curriculum on our KS4 results has been exceptional. We give our girls, many of whom come from areas of significant disadvantage, a great start to their future careers and we give them every chance to go on to further educational settings and excel. Parental and student feedback reinforces this, with 100% of our parents being happy with the education that their daughters receive.

Fir Vale is a vibrant, thriving school serving one of the most disadvantaged areas in the country. We are made up of wonderfully diverse communities with rich cultural heritages. Our children chose our values: Kindness, Respect, Determination, Togetherness, Opportunity, Achievement. We live these every day of our learning journey together.

School Infrastructure Innovation of the Year

King’s is one of England’s great schools, with a reputation for delivering outstanding education for more than five centuries. Located on a state-of-the-art 80-acre campus in Cheshire, King’s is a vibrant co-educational community of children aged 3 to 18 years and our curriculum is designed to keep pupils involved, stimulated and eager to learn. We have a reputation not only for academic excellence, but for our broad education, extra-curricular programme and nurturing environment. We moved to our new campus in 2020: the realization of an eight-year plan to bring three school sites together on to a new purpose-built campus.

Dave has worked in Education IT for nearly 20 years and led on some of the largest managed service projects in the North East before joining Northern Education Trust as their Trust IT Manager in 2016. Northern Education Trust are one of the largest and most successful trusts in the North of England and Dave has played a pivotal role in supporting the transformation and development of EdTech and IT infrastructure in all 21 academies within the trust.

MAT of the Year

Wellspring Multi-Academy Trust has 29 Academies across Yorkshire and Lincolnshire. The Trust provides high quality education in primary, secondary, special and alternative provision settings which are distinctive in character. Its growth and achievements have been substantial, with eight new schools already being built, more under development and substantial ongoing improvements to the school estate. Wellspring is passionate about its social purpose, championing inclusive education, stronger communities and improving life chances. By embedding a strong culture focused on social purpose and treating young people with unconditional positive regard, it is proud to have never permanently excluded a pupil.

ELT Partnership is a family of six primary and one special school serving a rich tapestry of needs. Our home is Enfield, but our reach extends far wider in our quest to contribute to a world class education system. Our children live in some of the most deprived wards in London, while others are from more affluent backgrounds. It is this diversity that unites and inspires us, as we deliver our pledge to be a MAT where children flourish without labels. Equality and equity are the supporting pillars of our overarching promise that all children will ‘be included, be connected’.

The Vine Schools Trust is a Multi-Academy Trust (MAT) based in Chelmsford, Essex. The Trust was created by the Chelmsford Diocesan Board of Education, who support children and youth across 460 parishes in Essex. Our MAT is a family of mutually supportive schools across the county. We work in partnership with our schools to ensure we are delivering support and solutions that will help them to flourish. We are committed to offering an education that teaches our pupils the value of Christian character through a curriculum that facilitates spiritual, intellectual, physical and creative learning.

Governor of the Year

Jerzy (George) Krawiec is a retired solicitor and former Chief Executive, serving in three Local Authorities. He became Chair of Beacon Academy’s predecessor school (Holy Family) when it was facing particular difficulties. George played a major part in the school joining Wellspring Academy Trust in 2017. Since that time he has Chaired the Academy’s Governing Body and has seen its transformation from having under 200 pupils and a poor reputation to having 500 (and growing) and achieving a ‘Good’ Ofsted judgment. The Academy is currently the most over-subscribed secondary school in NE Lincolnshire and has ambitious plans for the future.

Affectionately known as ‘Betty’, she has been the stalwart for our community for over 40 years. She has made an exceptional contribution, initially as Bursar and part of SLT, and as Chair of Governors since 2011. Betty provides strong Leadership demonstrated by St Damian’s moving from Special Measures to Ofsted outstanding in all areas! Betty’s works tirelessly for charity and in 2016 was awarded The Queens Award for Voluntary Service in recognition for service to Willow Wood Hospice. Underpinning her remarkable dedication, Betty is hard-working, honest, determined, has great wisdom and humility in abundance. In essence, Betty is truly unique and an 'unsung hero' who works relentlessly for the St Damian’s Community.

New Brighton Primary is a large Primary school at the heart of a coastal community on the Wirral peninsular. Ken has been a governor at New Brighton for the last 28 years and was governor at another local primary school for 3 years prior to this. As Chair of Governors for a large proportion of his time here Ken has demonstrated his unwavering commitment and has made a significant contribution to realising the aims of the school with his positive commitment to ensuring our children love learning and has contributed immeasurably to the success of the school. He has made significant contributions in maintaining a strong financial position and creating a team which shares the vision to form positive relationships and achieve the very best outcomes for all our children. At the age of 89 Ken has unfortunately recently had to step down as a full governor due to health issues, but been a true inspiration to our staff and pupils over the last 28 years because of his boundless energy and commitment.

Lifetime achievement Award

Sue has spent 34 years in the classroom with an ambition to make food technology relevant to young people and has been highly successful in embedding this valuable subject in Warlingham School’s curriculum. She became Head of Year and was integral to the birth of the house system in 2002 which still thrives today. In this role she worked tirelessly to address pastoral issues that acted as a barrier to student success. Driven by a desire to bring new talent into the most rewarding of professions, this passion led to outstanding leadership of Warlingham school’s teacher training and induction programmes.

Bethan Lewis Powell founded The Mulberry House School in 1989, having taught and advised in primary schools in the 1980s. Through Bethan’s vision and determination, The Mulberry House School has consistently educated the whole child, supported working families and strived for high standards of attainment. As a woman business leader, Bethan has also encouraged professional excellence among teachers due to the high standards she sets and has inspired many younger teachers to aim high and to achieve their full potential. Bethan’s belief and personal ethos have shaped every aspect of The Mulberry House School and brought recognition to the school as an exemplary learning institution among parents, pupils, education professionals and our local community. https://mulberryhouseschool.com/

I always wanted to be a teacher. At secondary school when I was told that teaching was not the job for me it made me all the more determined. After taking a foundation art course I started my teaching course. My first job was at my secondary school as a form teacher, teaching girls I had been at school with only a few years before. I started my primary teaching where I had an inspiring mentor. I am unwavering in sharing my love of learning and a determination to be the best you could be with children, families and colleagues.

Income Innovator of the Year

Ahead of joining the Gosport and Fareham Multi Academy Trust (GFM), as an Executive Headteacher, Chris was a senior leader in London. He has been a Trustee for a national MAT and is currently a Governor Vice Chair for two federated infant schools in Gosport. Chris has utilised his charisma and commitment to Gosport to secure a number of high level, strategic community and business partnerships, enabling funding and wider learning opportunities for Gosport and Fareham learners. Furthermore, Chris has a key responsibility for the Personal Development and Community endeavours of the GFM which serves five local schools, educating 4000 learners.

At Oak Meadow Primary School, we continually strive to innovate in order to inspire our children and support financial capacity. We are passionate in our privileged role to ignite children’s intrinsic learning motivations and sense of awe and wonder. The vision for the University of Oak Meadow was deep-rooted in the principle that we all ‘aspire to make a difference’ in our lives. The innovation built on the momentum of previous achievements, enhancing partnership links and strengthening community relationships by raising significant funding to support the mental health and well-being of all stakeholders through the cultivation of our PEACE garden.