The Herts Advertiser School Awards – Winners announced
WITHOUT doubt one of the biggest events in the education calendar for the St Albans district is the Herts Advertiser School Awards, which took place last week at a gala ceremony evening at Oaklands College.
Held in a marquee within the beautiful grounds of the Smallford campus, the third annual event was packed to capacity with teachers, pupils and support staff from local primary and secondary schools, all anxious to find out if they had won this year’s accolades.
The compere for the evening was Radio Verulam Drivetime show host Danny Smith, who revealed how he was personally inspired by his teachers.
Herts Advertiser editor Matt Adams then opened the evening’s proceedings: “They say third time’s the charm and it certainly has been with this year’s awards. I am overjoyed that so many of the people nominated for the awards have joined us here in these beautiful grounds to celebrate all that is good within local education.
“I would like to say a massive thank you to our sponsors this evening who have been instrumental in making this event happen. It is because of your generous support that this event continues to grow and we can celebrate our local success stories in this way.”
The main sponsor of this prestigious ceremony is Oaklands College, which boasts almost 1,500 full and part-time courses, offering a wide range of learning opportunities and training solutions wtihin a vibrant, inclusive campus environment.
Oaklands principal Zoe Hancock said they were proud to be hosting the third Herts Advertiser School Awards and acknowledging some outstanding individuals from the education community.
She added: “This evening is an opportunity to honour teachers, staff and students who consistently go the extra mile to achieve success and reach their potential.
“We are very fortunate in our district that we have so many talented and valued individuals in schools and we were overwhelmed by the number of nominations received for each award.
“Schools play such an integral role in the community and help to shape its future so it’s very important to recognise dedication, outstanding individuals and the extremely high standard of our local education.”
The Teacher of the Year category is unquestionably one of the most popular, and was again split into two separate awards for primary and secondary. It attrached dozens of entries from nominees keen to recognise the contributions made by teaching staff across the district. The primary award was sponsored by Neves Solicitors in Harpenden, which offers a broad range of legal services for private and business clients, and the secondary award by Oaklands College.
After much deliberation, the judges gave the primary award to Sarah Kropman from Cunningham Hill Juniors, who has been instrumental in developing and rehearsing a competition choir, and also coaches the school’s football teams.
Her nominees said: “I have witnessed her blossom with experience and wisdom into an incredibly devoted teacher. She has taught both my children and inspired them, along with all children who are lucky enough to be taught by her… She consistently works to provide opportunities for the children in the school to have new experiences and success through sport and music which I believe is over and above what is expected… I feel Miss Kropman has been an inspiration to the children in the school both as an educator, and as an exceptional human being, she always takes the time to find out exactly what each student needs to progress, and will go out of her way to help them.”
The secondary award went to Helen Cox from Sir John Lawes in Harpenden, who is also an advanced skills teacher for the Global Dimension for Herts, working with many schools at all levels to cover green and sustainability issues, coordinated her school’s partnership with Ndeke High School in Zambia, and organised campaigns for the eco-schools group which saw them meet David Cameron at Downing Street.
Her nomination said: “Helen Cox is not so much a teacher as a force of nature – which is apt given that she is a geography specialist! As a classroom teacher she delivers innovative and stimulating lessons and her students achieve excellent results – however, it is outside the classroom that Helen has really made a unique contribution to Sir John Lawes and many other schools. What makes Helen’s achievements this year even more outstanding is that since returning from maternity leave she has only been working two days a week! That she can make such an impact in such a restricted time is testament to what an extraordinary individual she is and just how lucky we are to have her at our school.”
Runners up for primary Teacher of the Year were Aimee Novell from Margaret Wix, Claire Collier from The Lea Primary and Nursery School, and Darren Armoogum from Wood End Primary. Secondary school runners-up were Laura Howard from St George’s VA School, and Deborah Esmizadeh and Jane Pearson, both from the Beaumont School.
The Innovation/Project of the Year category recognises those schools which have embarked on an unusual initiative which has brought particular benefits to the school and the surrounding community. All schools were judged on their own merits, and the overall winner was Sir John Lawes with “Have you met?”, a project which raises the profile and self-esteem of selected pupils by getting them to prepare presentations about themselves which are shown to fellow pupils and members of staff. It has already involved more than 100 pupils.
Rob’s Festival from Beaumont School, Grove Junior School’s dance project, and maintaining the Olympic legacy at St Bernadette Catholic Primary School were runners up in this category, which was sponsored by Collinson Hall, the well-known independent estate agents covering St Albans, Harpenden and the villages.
The Sporting Achiever of the Year award was sponsored by Levy Associates in St Albans, deliverers of comprehensive staffing solutions and project services to the information technology and life sciences sectors on a pan-European basis. The winner was Joe Fundrey of the Marlborough Science Academy. Joe was born with right-sided hemiplegia, but this has not stopped him becoming a dedicated athlete with Stevenage Athletics Club and the East of England team. Joe recently won four gold medals at the DSE regional championships.
Runners up in this category were Lucy Moxham and Sophie Carter from St Albans High School for Girls, and Ashley Willing from Sandringham School.
In a change from previous years, the School of the Year category has also been divided into primary and category awards, in order to better highlight the very best schools the district has to offer, those where parents, teachers and pupils alike work together to create the perfect educational environment. The primary award is sponsored by Kool Kidz, a locally-run firm which organises children’s parties, holiday camps, childcare solutions and a mobile creche.
The winner of the primary award was St John Fisher Catholic Primary School, which was described as an “exceptional school”, it offers a diverse range of activities and is supported by a strong school community. One morning each week the headteacher even gives up his office to the children.
Runners up were St Bernadette Catholic Primary School, St Dominic Catholic Primary School, and The Grove Junior School.
The secondary School of the Year category is sponsored by Kingston Smith, a top 20 UK accountancy firm and one of the leading advisers to academies, independent schools and educational organisations. The overall winner was Sir John Lawes School, which was recognised for its continuing high standards of academic achievement along with its contribution to the community through a variety of projects and campaigns.
Well done to runners up Verulam School, Sandringham School and St Albans Girls School.
New categories introduced this year included the Unsung Hero award, sponsored by the Herts Advertiser, which recognises the volunteers present in schools coordinating fundraising events, supporting students in the classroom, dinner hall or playground, helping at weekends or supporting sports teams. The overall winner was Vanessa Mason from The Lea Primary and Nursery School, who was said to be invaluable to the PTA. She single-handedly secured raffle prizes worth £1,300 for the Christmas fair. The summer fair prize total has already passed £1,500 and Vanessa even raised £375 through advertising revenue from fair programmes.
Runners up were Natalie Chaston, Eva Yalden, and Jacqui Ipsen, all from The Grove Junior School, and Dave Parry, Doug Price, Rodeney Day from St Albans Girls’ School.
The Support Staff Member category was introduced to recognise those people who are the cogs driving the machinery of our schools. They clean the toilets, unlock the gates, help children cross hazardous roads, prepare the tastiest lunches, answer the phones and clear snow from the paths, as well as a host of other responsibilities behind-the-scenes.
This award, which is sponsored by community station Radio Verulam, celebrates school support staff’s contribution for ensuring our children are safe, fed and looked after from the moment they arrive at the school gates to when they walk out every evening.
This category was sponsored by Verulam Radio, and the winner was Errol Taylor from St Albans Girls’ School. Errol is no ordinary caretaker or site manager who regularly goes over and above the call of duty to help. This has included jump starting cars, running a special minibus trip when a bus failed to arrive and helping students find their lost property.
Runners up were Jacqui Ipsen from The Grove Junior School, Maureen Hamer from Beaumont School, and Lynn Forrester from Sir John Lawes School.
Finally, the Special Recognition Award was introduced to honour those students who have overcome adversity, whether be it in the form of a learning difficulty or disability, by refusing to let any obstacle slow them down in their drive to achieve their ambitions. The judges decided to recognise two students for this accolade, Sophie Bryan from Sandringham School and Nina Avery from St Albans Girls’ School.
Despite undergoing lengthy treatment for conditions related to her cancer, Sophie was determined to make the very best of her education and continued to study three A-levels. She achieved A grades in both biology and psychology.
Nina was diagnosed with leukaemia in Year 7 and has been battling the disease for two years. Nina has amazed everyone with her determination and this year has only been off for one half day.