Renaissance Awards 2019
By Ruth Atkinson, Marketing Assistant
The last Friday in November is a big day in the Renaissance calendar. This year, the morning was spent erecting the stage, putting up banners, ironing the tablecloths, blowing up balloons, and making sure we had enough canapes… all in preparation for our annual Renaissance Awards ceremony!
2019 marked our fourth year of celebrating best practice with Renaissance Accelerated Reader, Star Reading, and myON by Renaissance. Our awards recognise the schools and individuals across the UK, Ireland and the world that are as passionate about promoting reading to their students as we are, and are using our products in exceptional ways to make sure their students develop a love of reading.
Selecting the winners
This year, we actually received over 100 entries – more than ever before – from all over the UK, Ireland, and even the UAE! Our three judges really had their work cut out…
– Frances Kingston, a teacher for 27 years before joining the Renaissance Special Projects team in June 2018;
– Rianna Lindsay-Smith, a senior Renaissance coach who helps schools across the world implement our products every day;
– Liezel Wilkinson, a member of the Renaissance team with over ten years’ experience with Accelerated Reader.
Before we passed on all the entries to our judges, we took the time to anonymise all of them. That meant that even after several days of deliberation and careful consideration, the judges had no idea who they’d picked as the winners! On the day, it was as much of a surprise for them as it was for us.
A celebrity guest!
We invited the fantastic children’s author Vashti Hardy to host the awards. Our generous sponsor, Laburnum House, kindly donated copies of Vashti’s two books, Brightstorm and Wildspark, for her to sign for our guests on the day. The queue was long as Vashti took the time to chat with everyone about the amazing work they’re doing with reading in their school, and wrote personalised messages for everyone in their books.
On the day
We welcomed around 50 guests from 27 of our shortlisted schools to the ceremony, which was held in our offices in Canary Wharf, London. We were blessed with beautiful weather on the big day, which meant that we could show off the fantastic view from our 14th-floor event space. Yep, we’re pretty proud of it…
It was great to be able to catch up with some of our friends from schools we’ve worked with for a long time, as well as meet some new people and finally put faces to names of teachers and librarians that we’d been chatting to on social media and over email! We waited with baited breath to see who’d won each award. Stakes were high – every winner received their very own glass plaque, certificate and a £500 book voucher to spend at Laburnum House!
And the winner is…
The Terry Paul Award
In memory of Terry Paul, the late co-founder of Renaissance who was truly passionate about accelerating learning for all, we give the Terry Paul Award each year to an individual. Whether a teacher, educator, or someone influential in the education world, we select someone who embodies Terry’s ambition to help all children achieve their potential.
Winner: Eileen Bolton, Duke’s Aldridge Academy
Eileen works at Duke’s Aldridge Academy in north London. Her school has been using Accelerated Reader since 2008, and signed up to the Renaissance School Partnership programme in 2014. Her dedication to generating reading enthusiasm is unmatched: from stopping a busy Jacqueline Wilson on the street to record a quick video message for her students, to attending the Haringey children’s book award laden down with pile of books to be signed and take back to school, she is creative and imaginative in her ways of inspiring young readers. She is always happy to help other schools too, and we can personally name several schools that have changed the way they implement Star Assessments after watching Eileen and her class. Hers is the only UK school to have achieved Master School certification five years in a row.
Our judges said: “We admire the way Eileen exemplifies Renaissance’s mission statement in her school and throughout the UK: she is surely what Terry Paul would have had in mind when thinking of an educator determined to accelerate learning for all.”
Outstanding Achievement Award
This award is for a school that has demonstrated the most significant impact Renaissance products have made to accelerate learning. As a new award for 2019, we were blown away by the standard of entries. This award took our judges the longest to decide on! We presented one award for a primary school and one for a secondary school.
– Moira Primary School, Craigavon
– Greenacre Academy, Chatham
– The Telford Park School & The Telford Langley School, Telford
– Primary school winner: River Beach Primary School, Littlehampton
Judges said: “This school won the award because of the notable impact Renaissance products have had on transforming the reading culture and approach to assessments within the school, resulting in Ofsted recognition and increasing the use of Renaissance products across the Trust.”
– Secondary school winner: Kettering Buccleuch Academy, Kettering
Judges said: “The average percentage for students achieving their AR targets has risen term-on-term from 20% and is currently 80%+, transforming their reading culture.”
Project Manager and Core Team of the Year Awards
These awards are presented to an individual or a team doing a fantastic job project managing the school’s implementation of Renaissance products. We were looking for evidence of excellent implementation of one or more of Renaissance products within the school, and information about the strategies used, e.g. incentives used, training supplied, and support given.
– The team at the Telford Park School & The Telford Langley School, Telford
– Jonathan Weighall at Great Barr Academy, Birmingham
Our judges struggled so much with choosing a winner for the Project Manager of the Year award that two winners were chosen!
– Project Manager of the Year: Heidi Baillieu at Whitehill Primary School, Gravesend
Judges said: “We were impressed by the way Heidi uses Renaissance research-based best practices to create innovative thematic displays to engage and motivate every class. Heidi jointly leads a User Group, which allows her to support and share best practices on a wider scale.”
– Project Manager of the Year: Molly Epsly at Greenacre Academy, Chatham
Judges said: “Not only does Molly help schools within the Trust, but she also supports staff in local schools to use Renaissance products effectively. Her enthusiasm and commitment ensures that the programme has a positive impact on both students and staff within the Trust.”
– We also had to give a certificate of special recognition to Sharan Kaur at Nishkam High School, Birmingham, for her commitment and immensely hard work in her school library!
– Core Team of the Year: The team at Chalk Hills Academy, Luton
Judges said: “It stood out to us that this team leads by example. Teachers compete alongside students for rewards, even gaining their own millionaire status and earning their place on the AR end of year school trip. Their belief is that students learn more from watching what the teachers do than from what the teachers tell them to do.”
The Praise & Raise Award
This award is for a school that has demonstrated the most creative and effective way to praise students for good literacy, numeracy or assessment practices. We presented one award for a primary school and one for a secondary school.
– Trinity Primary School, Shrewsbury
– Lincoln Castle Academy, Lincoln
– Primary school winner: Prescot Primary School, Prescot
Judges said: “Their technology-rich and text-rich learning environment enables the young readers to fully access every feature of the programme – and also allows them to promote and motivate readers across the whole school community and beyond.”
– Secondary school winner: Corby Business Academy, Corby
Judges said: “As judges, we were so taken by their innovative, motivational and yet fair way of rewarding students – all based on their ability. One could say that their mission mirrors our mission here at Renaissance, which is to accelerate learning for all.”
Most Creative Reading Space Award
This award focuses entirely on a physical space set aside for reading – whether it’s an overhauled library space, breakout reading areas, or the transformation of a disused area – and the impact of the space on the school.
– Belle Vue Primary School, Stourbridge
– Halberton Primary School, Tiverton
Judges said: “In this category there were numerous inspiring nominations, but it was one school in particular which blew us away! The concept, detailed thought and community effort that went into transforming an old library into a sustainable, woodland-themed space was out of this world.”
The Excellence Award
This award is given to the school that has most met or exceeded the criteria for Master School for the whole academic year 2018/19. All of our Master Schools were shortlisted for this award, which is not decided by our judges, but by looking at their school data!
– Crosshall Junior School, St Neots
– Duke’s Aldridge Academy, Tottenham
– Godstowe Preparatory School, High Wycombe
– Holmleigh Primary School, London
– Irchester Community Primary School, Irchester
– Keig Primary School, Aberdeenshire
– Manor Leas Junior Academy, Lincoln
– Millington Primary School, Craigavon
– Moira Primary School, Craigavon
– Plumcroft Primary School, Greenwich
– Raglan Junior School, Enfield
– Redriff Primary School, Rotherhithe
– Stranmillis Primary School, Belfast
– Telford Langely School, Telford
– The Telford Park School, Telford
– Toft Hill Primary School, Bishop Auckland
– Whitehill Primary School, Gravesend
– William Alvey School, Sleaford
– Minster In Sheppey Primary School, Sheerness
A big thank you to: Laburnum House Educational for sponsoring our event and the fantastic prizes; Vashti Hardy for hosting and signing so many books for our guests; every school that took the time to write a nomination for an award; every guest who spent their Friday afternoon at our 2019 awards ceremony; and finally, all of our schools up and down the UK and Ireland who are using our products to help us strive towards our mission of accelerating learning for all. We couldn’t do it without you!
Ruth works in the marketing team at Renaissance, writing blog posts, success stories, and running social media!