Celebrating Excellence in Education: The 2023 Renaissance Awards

By Denisha Polin

Thursday 16th November marked a significant day in the Renaissance calendar as teaching staff, senior leaders and supporting teams gathered at Glaziers Hall, London Bridge for the eighth annual Renaissance Awards – the first in-person celebration post-COVID. The event showcased the remarkable achievements of schools worldwide in the 22/23 school year and brought together a community of dedicated professionals.

Setting the stage

The morning of the event saw lots of activity as the team prepared the venue, ensuring everything was in place for the celebration. Tables were arranged, the stage was set and the slide show was rehearsed. This year, notable changes were introduced, including three new categories in collaboration with our colleagues at GL Assessment: Assessment Excellence, Extraordinary Edtech and Curriculum Initiative. Additionally, the introduction of the Wellbeing and Inclusion category highlighted the importance of fostering a supportive and inclusive learning environment.

 

Behind the Scenes: Selecting the Winners

The task of selecting the winners fell on the shoulders of a distinguished panel of judges. Liezel Wilkinson, Crispin Chatterton, Helen Robinson, Debbie Baird and Chris McKenzie  meticulously reviewed nearly 100 entries, each anonymised to ensure impartiality. These educational experts brought a wealth of experience from various roles, contributing diverse perspectives to the selection process.

Frances Kingston and Margaret Allen, the dynamic hosting duo, once again ensured the evening’s success. Their energy and charisma set the stage for an evening filled with celebration and recognition.

Renaissance International Managing Director, Mary de Sausmarez, opened the ceremony with a speech about social responsibility and the impact of education on young learners. Extending her thanks to teachers for their efforts, Mary went on to acknowledge the significance of their roles on the future generation.

Author Spotlight

Renowned YA author, Keren David then took the stage, sharing insights about the context behind her book, What We’re Scared Of, delving into Jewish culture, community and antisemitism, as well as the importance of fostering a spirit of tolerance amongst young readers. Laburnum House generously sponsored 140 copies of Keren’s book, which were distributed to all guests.

And the Winners Are…

The ceremony saw winners in nine categories, each representing excellence and innovation across the education landscape.

Assessment Excellence

  • Runner-up: Repton Prep
  • Winner: Ian Mooney – North Liverpool Academy

On accepting the Award Ian said, “This is lovely but actually it’s for the children. When we set up the Trust it was about giving the children and the families who needed support a better education. It’s not about the assessment, it’s about what we do with what the assessment tells us and how we change children’s lives – that’s the most important thing we’ll take from assessment.”

Celebration and Recognition

  • Runner-up: St. Joseph’s Boys’ School, Derry
  • Winner: Winyates Primary School

On the evening our hosts highlighted how in this school “the children’s attitudes to reading have changed, so much so that they look forward to the half-termly newsletter where they can find books that have been recommended and where they can recommend books too.”

Creativity and Innovation

  • Runner-up: Yuanyuan Li, Secondary English Teacher – Beijing Chaoyang Kaiwen Academy
  • Winner: Wellingborough School

Judges were particularly fascinated by Wellingborough’s outdoor maths lesson implementation which has included using natural resources for place value to measure angles such as a water balloon catapult!

Curriculum Initiative

  • Runner-up: The Leadership team – Outwood Primary Academy Lofthouse Gate
  • Winner: Brenda Edwards, Head of English – St Joseph’s Boys’ School

Travelling from Ireland to accept the award, Brenda’s colleague on the English Leadership team said, “Our Head of English really has a passion for supporting the students. We look at the kids’ interests such as Gaelic and Soccer, and incorporate these into the curriculum to create a new engaging experience which generates a thirst for reading and writing.”

Extraordinary Edtech

  • Runner-up: Patricia Abernethy, Learning Resource Manager and David Mather, Head of IT – West Kirby School and College
  • Winner: Allen Tsui, Head of Computing & STEM Enrichment – Willow Brook Primary School Academy

In a pre-recorded acceptance speech, Allen was overjoyed for the recognition stating, “It’s a special moment for me and my school.”

Outstanding Achievement

  • Runner-up: Heather Kearney, Vice Principal – Western House Academy
  • Winner: English Department and Reading Team – West Kirby School and College

Coming on stage to collect their award, staff highlighted the school’s collaborative team and acknowledged the efforts of the whole English department for the children’s success in literacy.

AR Librarian of the Year

  • Runner-up: Tracey Keggans, Librarian – St Bede’s Catholic Middle School
  • Winner: Natasha Stevenson, Library Manager – The Hazeley Academy

Host Frances Kingston shared, “(Natasha) knows all the students’ reading interests and is described as Accelerated Reader’s biggest champion!”

Wellbeing & Inclusion

  • Runner-up: The Mental Health First Aiders – Dulwich Prep London
  • Winner: Pastoral team – Meadow Park

Our judges were delighted to hear about the resources the team at Meadow Park have developed to support children’s emotional regulation – from counselling to academic catch-up and art therapy to yoga.

Wildcard

This award recognised a school excelling in 22/23 that didn’t quite fit into other categories.

  • Runner-up: Kelly Johnston, Head of Lower School and Scholars – North Liverpool Academy
  • Winner: St Mac Daras Community College

Unable to attend in-person on the day, the school’s Dungeons and Dragons representative, Christian Kelly, told the audience in a pre-recorded video that the club was created to “bridge the spheres between children’s own enjoyment and their education”. Watch the full speech, here.

Acknowledgments

A big thank you to:

  • Laburnum House Educational for sponsoring our event and the book copies
  • Keren David for speaking on the night and signing so many books for our guests
  • Every school that took the time to write a nomination for an award
  • Every guest who attended our 2023 awards ceremony

And thank you to all of the schools across the globe who are using our products which helps us strive towards our mission of accelerating learning for all. We couldn’t do it without you!



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