Renaissance Awards 2018

By Chris Jarosh

On Friday 30th November, teachers, headteachers and librarians from schools across the UK and Ireland headed towards Canary Wharf, East London. Waiting for them on the 14th floor of the South Quay building was a night to remember…

…the third annual Renaissance Awards!

The Renaissance Awards are our annual opportunity to celebrate best practice with Renaissance Accelerated Reader and Renaissance Star Reading. The awards recognise the schools across the UK and Ireland that are as passionate about promoting reading to their students as we are, and are using our products make sure their students develop a love of reading.


Selecting the winners

We work with almost 6,000 schools in the UK and Ireland. That’s a lot to choose from, and it wasn’t easy! First, we had to find our top-performing schools in England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Looking at average reading time, percentages correct on quizzes, and more, we eventually drew up the list. We invited all our shortlisted and winning schools to the awards evening to find out the overall winners!

The next two awards we needed your help for: ‘Project Manager/Team of the Year’, and ‘Most Creative Celebration of Reading’. We asked for your nominations, and you delivered! All the entries were thoroughly read and examined by our panel of judges:

  • Frances Kingston, a teacher for 27 years before joining the Renaissance Special Projects team in June 2018
  • Darren Woodford, previously an English teacher and now a Renaissance coach, helping schools all over the country with their Accelerated Reader training
  • Liezel Wilkinson, a member of our Special Projects team with over ten years’ experience with Accelerated Reader.

After much deliberation, a shortlist and winners for each category were finally chosen, and we invited them all to the big night too.

Finally, we also selected a winner for the Terry Paul award. Terry Paul, the late co-founder of Renaissance, was truly passionate about accelerating learning for all. In his memory, the award is given annually to an individual who embodies Terry’s ambition to help all children achieve their potential.


On the night

We invited Andy Briggs, bestselling children’s author, graphic novelist and screenwriter – and long-time supporter of Renaissance – to host the awards. Our generous sponsor, Laburnum House Educational, kindly donated some copies of Andy’s latest children’s book, Drone Racer, which he signed, so all our guests were able to take a free signed copy with them! Thanks, Andy and Laburnum House!

Our guests arrived from far and wide to drinks and canapes – and a pretty good view! – in our offices. (Having only moved into our new offices recently, we were keen to show them off!) Then the awards got underway!


Time to celebrate!

All our winning schools were absolutely chuffed with their awards, of course! Lots of our schools sent in videos when they learned they were nominated, so we enjoyed watching those too – look out for a selection on our Facebook and Twitter pages over the coming weeks!


And the winner is…

Check out the full list of winners and runners-up below!

Top Performing Schools

Primary winner:

  • Minster-in-Sheppey Primary School, Kent

Secondary winner:

  • The Telford Park School, Shropshire


  • Redriff Primary School
  • Minterne Junior School
  • Duke’s Aldridge Academy
  • St James Church School

Primary winner:

  • New Deer School, Aberdeenshire
  • ***UPDATE*** Following New Deer School’s Renaissance Awards success, a motion has been lodged in Scottish Parliament recognising the achievement of the school

Secondary winner:

  • Harlaw Academy, Aberdeen


  • Midmar Primary School
  • Dunbar Primary School
  • Smithycroft Secondary School
  • The Gordon Schools

Primary winner:

  • Albert Primary School, Penarth

Secondary winner:

  • Haverfordwest High VC School, Haverfordwest


  • Croesyceiliog Primary School
  • Georgetown Primary School
  • Cardiff High School
  • Dyffryn School Upper
Northern Ireland

Primary winner:

  • St Comgall’s Primary School, Antrim

Secondary winner:

  • St Killian’s College, Ballymena


  • St Patrick’s Primary School
  • Stranmillis Primary School
  • Bangor Grammar School
  • Sullivan Upper School
Republic of Ireland

Primary winner:

  • Ballyvaughan School, County Clare

Secondary winner:

  • Wesley College, Dublin


  • Ruan Central National School
  • O’Callaghans Mills National School
  • De La Salle College
  • Kilmurray McMahon National School
Project Manager/Team of the Year

Primary winner:

  • Chelsea Sandbrook at Manor Leas Junior Academy

Secondary winner:

  • Sam Philips and the AR team at Bo’ness Academy


  • Claire Wilson at Cairnshill Primary School
  • The whole teaching team and TAs at Tewkesbury CofE Primary School
  • Sarah Foley at Telford Park and Telford Langley Schools
  • The English department and librarian at Nishkam High School
Most Creative Reading Celebration

Primary winner:

  • Manor Leas Junior Academy

Secondary winners (a two-way tie!):

  • Fearnhill School
  • Oasis Academy Wintringham


  • Cairnshill Primary School
  • Whitehill Primary School
  • James Bateman Junior High School
  • St George’s Academy

And a special mention to Cedar Lodge Special School – this one was close!

Terry Paul Award

Winner: Dirk Foch
Dirk recently left Renaissance, having been the UK Managing Director since 1998 when it was first decided to bring Accelerated Reader to these shores. We decided that Dirk deserved this award for everything he has given to Renaissance in the UK – without his perseverance, dedication and passion, the company wouldn’t be where it is today.

A big thank you to everyone who came to our 2018 awards ceremony, to Laburnum House Educational for sponsoring, to every school that was nominated, and to all of our schools up and down the UK and Ireland. Thank you for helping us strive towards our mission of accelerating learning for all: we couldn’t do it without you!

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