Herts Advertiser School Awards 2016 - the Oscars of education for the district

School of the Year Secondary finalists with Kingston Smith manager Simon Cunningham

School of the Year Secondary finalists with Kingston Smith manager Simon Cunningham - Credit: Archant

Sandringham School and Samuel Ryder Academy may have scooped many of the top accolades at this year’s Herts Advertiser School Awards, but the overall winner of the Secondary School of the Year commendation went to neighbouring Beaumont.

Special Recognition winner Paras Shah is interviewed by Radio Verulam's Shirley Hayman

Special Recognition winner Paras Shah is interviewed by Radio Verulam's Shirley Hayman - Credit: Archant

Competition had been fierce at this year’s awards, with more than 30 schools taking part and over 220 nominations received, and the full list of winners was announced at a glittering awards ceremony at Oaklands College in Smallford last week.

Hosted by Shirley Hayman, from Radio Verulam’s The Parents Show, the event, dubbed “the Oscars of education”, saw teachers, pupils and support staff face an anxious wait to learn who had been chosen to receive this year’s awards.

Herts Advertiser editor Matt Adams, who devised the School Awards six years ago, told the audience: “The schools represented here tonight are forward-thinking, inclusive, dynamic and open to change. They are justifiably seen as the reason why many people aspire to live in the St Albans district, and their achievements and those of their staff and pupils are without question worthy of recognition.”

Unsung Hero winner Joshua, Finn and Zack Pile is interviewed by Radio Verulam's Shirley Hayman

Unsung Hero winner Joshua, Finn and Zack Pile is interviewed by Radio Verulam's Shirley Hayman - Credit: Archant

The winners were:


Class LS5 – Heathlands School - Eight deaf pupils aged six to eight years old who raised more than £300 through a bring-and-buy sale and busking so the Sign Health charity could support a deaf school in Uganda.

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Jessica Leigh – Sandringham School - A star student, Jessica took a lead role in the school’s focus on science, technology, engineering and maths this year. Along with two other girls she undertook Amateur Radio Foundation License training and made contact with astronaut Tim Peake aboard the International Space Station live on the BBC.


Chris Smith – Sandringham School - A national level performer in tennis, Chris represents the school, club and county. This year he helped the Herts 12 and under singles team win the Lionel Cox regional tournament without losing a single set. He also represents the school at cross-country, athletics and basketball.


Gwynne Ralph – Samuel Ryder Academy - Gwynne has worked tirelessly to provide a safe environment to ensure that students with conditions such as autism, Asperger’s and those with emotional difficulties can improve their self-esteem, improve their communication skills and gain confidence.


Lisa Davies - Samuel Ryder Academy - The Head of Primary started in 2012 when there were no classrooms, staff or pupils. There are now 240 pupils all housed in the brand new primary buildings and Mrs Davies strives to provide the children a creative and varied learning environment.


Stella Berry – Samuel Ryder Academy - An outstanding teacher who pushes students to the best of their abilities, Stella is supportive and has an eye for detail.

Having worked in many departments, Stella is one of the most revered members of staff in the school and her students always have outstanding results.


Joshua, Finn and Zack Pile – Sandringham School - Joshua, Finn and their brother Zac (a student at Bernards Heath Junior School) have had a fantastic year developing their songwriting and performance skills to raise awareness and funds for epilepsy charities.

Their eldest brother Luke suffers from epilepsy and requires constant care due to the unpredictability of seizures.


Paras Shah, Sir John Lawes School - A positive student, even though he has to deal with health and care issues, as well as having special educational needs.

Suffering from visual impairment, Paras is a true inspiration to others, as well as being a really popular member of the school.


Alban City School - One parent said: “The school continues to go from strength to strength with each new year. Led by a fantastic headteacher, the whole staff are so enthusiastic, encouraging and dedicated. Every pupil is included in every possible way.”


Beaumont School - Beaumont School has been educating children in St Albans for more than 70 years. Many of the excellent staff are former pupils and they know how to educate children through motivation. Consistently in the country’s top 50 non-selective state schools.

Speaking after the event, Elizabeth Hitch, headteacher of Beaumont School, said: “I am absolutely delighted that Beaumont School is recognised in this way as the Secondary School of the Year.

“Our students are superb, our staff do an amazing job, our parents support the school whole-heartedly and as a result, students have wonderful opportunities to ‘Enjoy and Excel’.”

Janet Goddard, headteacher of Albans City School, said: “Alban City School is delighted to have been recognised as Primary School of the Year in the Herts Advertiser School Awards.

“We are very proud of our school and what we have achieved since opening our doors four years ago.

“I am very lucky to work with a great staff team who are passionate about what they do and continually go that extra mile for the children,” she added.