Education awards

2016 award winners

More than 400 nominations were received for education awards in 2016.

Outstanding early years practitioner

Winner: Lauren Arnell, Harris Primary Academy Chafford Hundred. Lauren is inspirational and to describe her as a 'workaholic' would be an understatement! The drive and commitment shown in ensuring all children can access learning in a fun and innovative fashion is wonderful to see. She has worked relentlessly to raise the standards of teaching and learning in the early years.

She has planned a 2-year rolling programme of learning for both the nursery and reception, which means that the children are exposed to amazing opportunities across the early years foundation stage curriculum and all areas of learning. She has high expectations of pupil achievement and through modelling best practice has enabled the team to believe how much is achievable in terms of children's progress.


  • Sarah Smith, Childminder
  • Janna Braidley, Lansdowne Primary Academy
  • Rachel Carter, Stifford Clays Primary

Outstanding new teacher

Winner: Gemma Bosworth, Quarry Hill Academy. Gemma is a dedicated and passionate teacher, who strives to find creative ways to engage and motivate the children in the class. She researches innovative ways to explore different topics, planning lessons which bring the curriculum to life for the pupils. She celebrates pupil's learning and supports children in becoming independent learners, but it is her diligent commitment and dedication to ensuring every individual child is offered the best education they could have that makes her an outstanding newcomer to the teaching profession.

She keenly researches new teaching strategies to engage her pupils and adapts methods until they have the desired impact. She also endeavours to develop her own knowledge in new areas of the curriculum and independently studies each subject to ensure she fully understands all that she is teaching.


  • Samantha Atkinson, Bonnygate Primary
  • Nina Standen, William Edwards School
  • Laura Leigh Newton, Grays Convent High School

Aspiring leader

Sponsored by ALM Training Services

Winner: Sian Rawson, William Edwards School. Sian's enthusiasm, dedication and commitment to the school, students and staff is inspiring. From developing and leading the homework projects, providing advice and support to staff and parents alike and utilising an incredible amount of her personal time in making sure students get the most engaging creative curriculum possible. She truly shows how passionate she is, not just for the school but for all young people and families in Thurrock.

Sian takes the initiative and seeks out new ideas and models to lead on improvements within school. She is a tutor, mentor and coach within her teaching role. She will often be found mentoring students during her breaks, as well as before school.

She is an approachable and studious member of staff, who is striving for excellence in everything she does. She shows true aspirations as a leader and her students model her attitude, behaviour and passion.


  • Nella Murthen, Belmont Castle Academy
  • Melissa Wilson, St Clere's School
  • Samantha Wakeling, Quarry Hill Academy

Creative teaching and learning

Sponsored by High House Production Park

Winner: Neil Moore, William Edwards School. Neil is the lead member of the team that has created bespoke transition subjects for Year 7 students. This curriculum is project-based and covers a broad spectrum of topics from: thinking about ourselves and our future, engaging with others, charity fund-raising, financial awareness and first aid. These creative and arts projects have included: residential team and confidence-building trips.

Through the Thurrock Trailblazer project this teacher has brought in professional dancers to work with the Head of Dance and GCSE Dance students, who have then worked in turn with KS3 students, taking their creativity out into the wider community. Neil has also been instrumental in playing a significant role in the development of new teachers at the school, involving them in the creation and planning of creative teaching and learning projects which has contributed positively to their early development as confident and creative classroom practitioners.


  • Antonia Ellard, Harris Primary Academy Chafford Hundred
  • Nathaniel Farrell, William Edwards School
  • Linda Warwick, Beacon Hill Academy

Education support

Winner: Malcolm Wilson, Thameside Primary. Malcolm is always the first to volunteer in any extracurricular activity that requires additional support. He is always the first to volunteer for weekend work to improve the grounds of the school. In his role, he is always striving to find new ways to encourage pupils to be punctual in their attendance. His innovative ideas have been instrumental in securing a steady rise in attendance figures in the last 3 years.

He is a huge inspiration to all. Despite retiring 3 times from previous employment, he is one of the most energetic and enthusiastic members of the school team.

Malcolm has a wonderful rapport with all children and can name every pupil in the school. If we could sum him up in a few words, they would be 'cheerful, resilient, passionate and whole heartedly supportive of the school'.


  • Karen Stukins, Bonnygate Primary
  • Liz Perry, Gable Hall School
  • Lynda Hills, St Thomas of Canterbury Catholic Primary

Excellence in English and/or maths

Winner: Laura Saunders, Somers Heath Primary. Laura's maths teaching never stands still. Despite now having 4 years of excellent results at well above national average, she still looks for strategies that will improve her teaching and learning and is always ready to share her best practice. Planning for all pupils abilities, including those with SEN and disadvantaged, she is innovative with her approaches.

She uses constant reflection and assessment. If it works, how it can be made better? If it doesn’t work, then why didn’t it work and what can I do to make it happen? Excellent use of feedback to pupils ensures she fully understands what they have learned and is able to apply this in a cross-curricular fashion.


  • Nella Murthen, Belmont Castle Academy
  • Samantha Wakeling, Quarry Hill Academy
  • Thomas Paton, William Edwards School

Inspiring career opportunity

Sponsored by Palmers Solicitors

Winner: Frank Thompson, Thurrock Careers Service. Frank has created a network of local employers and enhanced the world of work opportunities to support career-related events in a number of ways including: Year 11 Next Steps, Deep Learning Day, Mock Interview Day, Thurrock's Next Top Boss, Employability sessions and work experience opportunities.

He supports young people and their families in many ways – not just careers advice but support with behavioural problems, relationships, part-time jobs, sexuality, substance misuse and many other issues that young people face. As well as conducting over 1,000 one-to-one interventions a year, there are other numerous examples of how he goes above and beyond to help students, their older siblings and parents, believing that if you raise the expectations of siblings and parents, they will act as role models.


  • Deborah Doyle, William Edwards School
  • Prince's Trust Team
  • Lynn Harding, Thurrock Careers Service

Excellence in science and technologies

Sponsored by Thames Oilport

Winner: James Pickering, William Edwards School. James is a rare talent. He is an innovator who prides himself on finding new ways to engage young people and make sure the science curriculum is relevant and exciting. He is an exceptional teacher who regularly achieves excellent results with classes. His real talent, however, is in finding new ways to bring science to life.

For example, he used a shared passion for motorsport to bring alive aspects of the physics and chemistry curriculum for a group of boys who were struggling to engage with science. All of the boys are now set for success in their studies.


  • Oliver Winkworth, Ormiston Park Academy
  • Team Science, St Clere's School
  • Emma Sanderson, Belmont Castle Academy

Governing board

Sponsored by Kingston Smith LLP

Winner: Corringham Primary. This governing board works closely with the school's leadership team and head teacher to set the vision, ethos and strategic direction. All the governors are fully involved in this process. The board regularly challenges the head teacher on school performance and finance, and probes all the answers. By careful budget monitoring, the school now has a healthy budget.

With the support of the governing board, the school has received the following accolades this year: Parliamentary Review – one of the most improved schools in England (only 14 schools in England selected), Inclusion Quality Mark, Flagship status achieved. All the school results are at or above national average.


  • Somers Heath Primary
  • Belmont Castle Academy
  • Gable Hall School

Teacher of the year in primary education

Winner: Paco Garcia, Belmont Castle Academy. Paco is one of those unsung heroes in teaching, loved by pupils, parents and staff alike. He is an inspirational teacher who brings the curriculum to life by organising week long foreign trips, days out, culture days and they have even persuaded sporting heroes from his home country to visit the school and wow the children. He provides the children with a rich opportunity, where the subject is brought to life and the children truly grow from their experiences.

He gives up his free time to train children to compete in sporting competitions to a high standard. He inspires the children to be the best they can be and encourages the adults to support children too. Through his dedication to sport and the children, the school has won many competitions this year.


  • Lucy Stamp, Bonnygate Primary
  • Nella Murthen, Belmont Castle Academy
  • Laura Lewis, Warren Primary

Teacher of the year in secondary education or post-16 provision

Sponsored by ALM Training Services

Winner: Matt Clark, The Gateway Academy. Matt regularly goes above and beyond the call of duty for both staff and students. His impact on the academy's young people and their families is overwhelming. He provides consistent support for some of the most vulnerable pupils.

Matt celebrates the success of the students and focuses on the positives rather than the negatives. He has a natural ability to bring the best out in people. The fact that he is able to laugh at himself and yet lead others is a unique trait to have.

Not only has he developed positive relationships with students, he has developed an amazing rapport with parents that regular provides support in situations where may not have had it previously. He is always proud of the young people and a true patron of the school.


  • Benjamin Mapp, Harris Academy Chafford Hundred
  • Victoria Handford, Gable Hall School
  • Maureen Coughlan, Grays Convent High School

Teacher of the year in a special school or alternative provision

Winner: Lucy Meek, Treetops School. Lucy has a real commitment to working with children and young adults. She ensures the best outcomes for the students, looking at the best ways of making sure they have a safe environment to explore the wider world. She is an excellent manager whose enthusiasm rubs off on all staff she works with, creating a positive atmosphere within her department.

She has looked at the areas young people need to develop and then organised a person-centred curriculum to enable them to do this. She has been teaching for over a decade and consistently teaches outstanding lessons across the curriculum.


  • Sarah Archer, Treetops School
  • Kate Poppy, Beacon Hill Academy

Head teacher of the year in primary education

Sponsored by HW Wilson limited

Winner: Tony Parfett, Quarry Hill Academy. Ensuring quality education for all formed the basis of Tony's focus for transforming the school and by nurturing a culture of growth mind-set, he has enabled the rapid acceleration of both outcomes for pupils and the exceptional quality of teaching and learning. Consistent high expectations challenge both staff and pupils, and his desire to make sure all pupils receive the very best education possible has culminated in an outstanding provision.

He is creative in his outstanding leadership, and is an inspiration to the staff and children. All stakeholders are motivated by the challenges set and he regularly models teaching, and inspires others to reach their full potential.


  • Sam Otto, Herringham Primary Academy
  • Anthony Peltier, Stifford Clays Primary
  • Dan George, Tilbury Pioneer Academy

Head teacher of the year in secondary education, special education, alternative or post-16 provision

Sponsored by Port of Tilbury

Winner: Penny Johnson, Grays Convent High School. Penny's approachable style and open-door policy means they are always on hand to coach not just their Senior Leadership Team but all staff. She has brought creativity, infectious energy, tenacity and humility to leadership at the school.

Her awesome presence can truly be felt around the school. She has led the school through a difficult time of change and have successfully transformed its standing to all stakeholders but in particular with the staff.

She has created an assistant head programme, giving leaders at various levels an opportunity to serve on the Senior Leadership Team for one year as a development opportunity. This transformed the way ownership is viewed by all staff. In February 2016, the school received a letter of recognition from Nick Gibb, the Minister of State for Schools, in acknowledgement of the excellent improvement in GCSE and equivalent results from 2013 to 2015.


  • Barbara King, The Ockendon Academy
  • Grainne McLaughlin, The Gateway Academy
  • Paul Smith, Treetops School

Outstanding contribution to education in Thurrock

Sponsored by Port of Tilbury

Winner: Ray Osborne. Ray was a local farmer and a dedicated governor of St Clere's School for 38 years, where he is now owed a debt of gratitude that is very difficult to put into words. He joined the Board of Governors in 1978 and became Chairman in 1981, a position he held until he passed away in July of this year.

He was passionate about education and about providing young people in the community with the best environment to learn and the best opportunities to succeed. He was instrumental in developing St Clere’s Co-operative Academy Trust into the forward-thinking and innovative establishment it is today. He took tremendous delight in seeing the pupils learn, compete and broaden their own horizons.

Ray’s vision and entrepreneurial skills kept St Clere's School at the forefront of educational innovation and success from the minute it opened. His success was based on a sharp common sense and pragmatic approach.

He wanted to improve the educational provision in this area for very personal reasons. He had attended Palmer’s Boys' Grammar School and felt his own children had not, however, benefited from the same quality of education he received; he was determined to do something about it. Ray changed the character of the educational landscape for the benefit of all local children.

St Clere’s was the first school to achieve specialist school status in Thurrock. Ray had the idea of cross-phase school trusts 10 years before the government did.

He felt that to really make a difference to young people's lives, St Clere's needed to work together with its local primary schools. St Clere's worked in partnership with East Tilbury infant and Junior Schools; for a short time Ray was acting Chair of Governors of all 3 schools.

His most significant innovation, however, was setting up St Clere’s Co-operative Academy Trust, which is currently responsible for 6 schools that range from nursery to higher education. With his vision, St Clere's became the first Multi Academy Trust with the Co-operative articles of association in the country.

Ray wanted all children to be supported equally. He was particularly passionate about supporting underprivileged young people or those with special needs – he set up a community interest company to support pupils with music lessons, buying specialised equipment and making contributions to life-changing schools trips. Most of all he wanted the schools to be the centre of their communities.

He was truly a great man who asked nothing in return for all his efforts – the perfect school governor: "good with money, pragmatic and with a vision for success."