Independent School Awards 2016 :: Blog
2018 categories & criteria will be published here in May Open for entries from Friday 12 May until Friday 23 June 2017

TES ISA blog

By Julie Booth, head of SIMS Independent

Why it’s not just children who thrive on praise   

The recognition of pupil achievement is a fundamental element of education. Schools often hold special assemblies dedicated to this alone, where certificates and merits are given out to children for anything from the best record of attendance, the highest maths score of the term or perhaps in recognition of a child who went out of their way to support a classmate through a difficult time, for whatever reason. 

And rightly so, details of pupil accomplishment are frequently and proudly shared by schools on the website and through social media. 

But as I found out when I attended the TES Independent School Awards, a really special event designed to celebrate the best of British independent education, shouting about your achievements does not always come naturally to school heads and teachers.

Reluctant heroes

Chatting to staff in some of the shortlisted and winning schools at the event, I got a sense that while delighted to have been recognised, some were perhaps a little nervous about sharing their success beyond an announcement on the website, a school assembly or a brief letter to parents. There was a concern that shining a brighter light on their school’s achievement might be regarded as arrogant or that they were bragging.

It struck me that through the awards, these schools had been recognised by their peers for doing something truly excellent in education – whether this was for an innovative reading initiative to help children with dyslexia, a scheme offering a year’s free music lessons to school staff or a programme designed to provide education, healthcare and vaccination for some of the poorest communities in Jakarta. Aren’t these all things that should be shouted about more widely? 

When heads and teachers put so much effort into identifying and celebrating their pupils’ achievements, you would think that taking the same approach to their school’s accomplishments would happen easily too. 

Recognising and celebrating success

Many schools have found that by recognising pupil achievement, children are encouraged to aim higher and motivated to reach their goals – whether this is to win the maths quiz, break the school record for long jump or achieve a standing ovation in their next drama or musical performance. Most schools have ways to capture the broad range of achievement that goes on every day so that no child misses out on the recognition they deserve. 

Celebrating pupil achievement is an effective way for schools to motivate their pupils. It can also build confidence in a child who lacks it or encourage a shy child out of their shell. 

Similarly, awards events like the one I attended highlight the innovation and inspiring teaching and learning initiatives going on in schools. They offer the opportunity for good schools to share their examples of best practice with their peers too. This, in turn, will often inspire heads and teachers to do things differently in their own schools. 

In my view, this can only enhance the education provided at those schools, and help to ensure that more children and young people benefit from excellence – inside and outside the classroom.

Why not enter your school for an Independent School Award this year