IN THIS year's Pearson Teaching Awards, distinctions and
commendations went to three teachers at St Saviour's and St Olave's
School, including one for the head teacher, Dr Irene Bishop. But
the school's assistant head, Luana Munro, is the regional winner
for London and the South-East in the category for Outstanding Use
of Technology in Education.
The school, a voluntary aided C of E secondary in Southwark,
London, is a popular and oversubscribed school for girls, judged
outstanding in its last OFSTED inspection. It accepts students from
other faiths, as well as Church of England and other denominations,
and many of the students are from lone-parent or low-income
families. The proportion of students eligible for free meals is
twice the national average, and 50 languages are spoken.
Inspectors praised the school for not resting on the laurels of
its previous inspection, but continuing to develop "at an
Ms Munro, who began as a PE teacher and head of lower school,
and took on the teaching and development of ICT in its infancy, is
described by her colleagues as "the sort of teacher that any head
could wish for". They say that no one gives more generously of her
time, that she is never fazed by her heavy workload, and that she
seems to thrive on challenges.
The data tracking system that she has implemented, to record
students' progress in every subject, is credited with making an
enormous difference in achievement, supporting an improvement which
has seen results rise from 16 per cent of pupils' gaining A-C
grades to 73 per cent achieving five A-C grades, with maths and
"It's basically about trying to make sure we know where all the
students are at," Ms Munro says. "Key Stage Two covers just English
and maths, and staff in other subjects felt it really didn't belong
to them." The large booklet she produces details expectations in
every subject at the end of Years 7, 8, and 9.
"Everybody now has a feeling that this is their result, and that
they have ownership of it. The system has the names of students in,
and not just the numbers," she emphasises. "What we've tried to do
is to major on their level of progress, with an Excel document for
Years 10 and 9 that tells you who they are; so that we have humans
happening, and not just numbers happening. Sometimes, with data,
you lose track of the students, and I hate that."
When asked what makes St Saviour's and St Olave's such a good
school, she says "I think we're massively supported. We work hard,
but the staff want to work hard, and there is a lot of recognition
of staff who want to put themselves out. It's a great environment.
It's an enjoyable place, and you enjoy coming to work. And the
students are lovely."
OFSTED inspectors reported that teachers in the school "always
go the extra mile". It is highly praised for its ethos and value
system, which includes outstanding provision for mental health. It
all comes down, the school says, to a simple principle: "We never
give up on girls."
HUGH CHAMBERS, of St Thomas Boteler Church of England High
School, in Warrington, regional winner of the Ted Wragg Award for
Lifetime Achievement, laughs when told that a colleague has
described him as something of a legend.
"I'm not sure how old you need to be, to be a legend," he says.
He has spent all 35 years of his career in the school - which began
life as a grammar school - and is credited with "teaching and
inspiring thousands of Warrington's young people, as well as the
many teachers who have been lucky enough to work alongside
He began as a French teacher, was head of languages by the age
of 28, and is now deputy head of the school. A passion for
motor-vehicle engineering led to his taking on the teaching of
design technology. When the school had a new sports hall, eight
years ago, his passion for basketball resulted in his
single-handedly building up a thriving club with what is said to be
"a fearsome reputation for winning". They finished as regional
runners-up in last year's English Schools Basketball
Basketball is an inspiring sport in the school. It has developed
into a community activity, and is run every day except high days,
including a week's summer school that attracts a mix of boys. For
the school players, links are made with academic progress: targets
are aimed at increasing points for positive behaviour, and they are
encouraged to complete their homework before they go training.
Teachers bring all their skills to the job, he says: all the
proficiencies that they build up through their lives. "That's the
rewarding thing - that somebody might change what they do in life
because of something I showed them."
The school - an 11-16 Specialist Music College, and the most
popular school in Warrington - is widely regarded as a centre of
excellence in youth leadership. Much of that is down to the work of
Mr Chambers, who can remember when children had no voice in schools
"except shouting in the corridors".
He has been at the forefront of the development of school
leadership and action teams, involving students in governors
meetings and staff appointments, and giving them a budget to work
"We aim to have about ten per cent of the school directly
involved in leadership in one way or another, instead of just a
small group of 'good' children," he says. "We want to bring in the
ones who are the opinion leaders, and we've had some really choice
ones who have turned [their lives] round by being given some
He is also closely involved in the mentoring of newly qualified
teachers. They used to "sink or swim" in his own early days of
teaching, but now benefit from a more structured and professional
development system, he says. He identifies the strong staff
identity and support at Sir Thomas Boteler as one of the school's
"It's why people stay so long, or reluctantly move on. It's a
comparatively small staff of 51; so anyone who needs a bit of
advice doesn't need to send someone an email and ask for an
appointment a week next Tuesday. You just turn to the person next
to you and say, 'What do I do about this?'"
There have been times of adversity in the school's history: it
had falling rolls after it ceased to be a grammar school; it was
forced to work on a split site after amalgamation; and it faced the
challenge of open enrolment. But all this engendered a Dunkirk
spirit, Mr Chambers says, that has passed from generation to
The school's other strengths, he says, are that students are
appreciative of what is done for them, and that parents are happy
for the school - motto: Our School Cares - to be in
loco parentis. "They give us a lot of trust, and hopefully
we live up to what they're looking for."
Colleagues describe Mr Chambers as "appreciated, respected, and
loved by pupils past and present, parents, staff, teachers, and
governors. He is a consummate professional, completely reliable,
and demanding the highest standards of himself while inspiring
others to aim high and achieve their full potential. He is simply
an exceptional education professional."
The Teaching Awards, Mr Chambers says, are a celebration of the
profession, not just a pinpointing of a few pockets of excellence
around the country.
At a reception at Westminster, in July, he met all the other
regional award winners. "The funny thing is, I was thinking that if
we suddenly took one of these people out, and substituted one of my
colleagues, would anyone really notice?
"To me, that wasn't 50 people getting it really right, and the
rest trying to live up to that, but that if these were typical of
teachers in schools today, then that was a really good reflection
on our profession. What binds us together is wanting to work
alongside young people. That's a really nice thing."
THE assistant head of St Mary Redcliffe and Temple Church of
England School, Bristol, Ian Taylor, was the individual winner for
the south-west region of Teacher of the Year in a Secondary School.
The only voluntary aided school in the city, it is a large,
high-achieving 11-18 school, recognised for a consistently high
quality of teaching that gained it an "Outstanding" rating in this
year's OFSTED inspection.
The head, Elisabeth Gilpin, praises Mr Taylor for his
contribution. "Every part of the school is affected by Ian's
impact. Ian is a brilliant educational thinker who creates simple
but effective ways to make learning more engaging for students,"
Mr Taylor is known for his "Take Five" learning objectives to
engage students in every lesson across the school; the five words
that would describe Mr Taylor, the school says, are: "'Visionary,
talented, innovative, perceptive, and creative'. Ian inspires
others by leading focused training days, and generously sharing his
bank of 150 model lessons."
Mr Taylor teaches history in a school with humanities as its
specialist school status, and is also line manager for literacy and
Every month, he invites 100 different students to write
personalised "Thank you" messages to their teachers and support
staff, and then shares these responses with staff. The one with the
most thank-yous gets a box of chocolates. "It's even more fitting,
then," says the head teacher, "that he gets this award for his
outstanding contribution to the teaching and learning of so many