Herts Advertiser School awards ceremony takes place: with gallery

Guests network before the awards are presented

Guests network before the awards are presented - Credit: Archant

There were gold stars all round for the winners of this year’s Herts Advertiser School Awards, the annual event celebrating the cream of the local education system.

Teachers, pupils, support staff and volunteers packed out the gala ceremony in the grounds of Oaklands College on Tuesday to find out who the special panel of judges had selected for this year’s awards.

But even though not everyone was able to walk away with one of the coveted awards, all of the nominees were recognised as winners for their incredible achievements over the past year.

The full list of winners are:

Teacher of the Year (Primary) – Stephanie Nye – High Beeches School

Miss Nye was nominated by the parent of one of her pupils, who said she was an exceptional teacher the school was lucky to have. The nomination added: “Miss Nye teaches with such passion and enthusiasm and is lovely to see how my daughter has grown from strength to strength in her academic learning and her development from a shy little girl to a little girl whose confidence is blossoming everyday. She enriches the children’s learning with scheduled school trips that are in-line with the early years syllabus, is always encouraging the children to think about others and is truly an amazing gifted lady. We as parents are so happy with this amazing start to our daughter’s schooling.”

Teacher of the Year (Secondary) – Andrew Cracknell – Sandringham School

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Currently the director of learning of Physical Education, he was described in his nomination as an exceptional individual who characterises the some of the most admirable qualities that both a teacher and an athlete can have: “Watching Andrew teach is a pleasure and watching Andrew coach students in the range of extra-curricular activities that he devotes himself to is inspirational. He gives of his time freely and is innovative in the way that he approaches the teaching of his subject... “He is one of the most passionate teachers that I have ever met. His passion shines through in all of his teaching and the commitment that he shows to helping students to reach their potential outside of the classroom. His dedication to physical activity and for ensuring that students have the best possible learning in his lessons is what truly makes him a great teacher.”

Pupil of the Year – Holly Simons – St Albans Girls’ School

Holly was highlighted as a most remarkable student. She befell extremely tragic circumstances a few weeks before her GCSE examinations, when her father died suddenly, but went onto sit the majority of her examinations and gain entrance into the Sixth Form. Her dedication to fundraising is second to none and she supports younger students with their fundraising and has supervised and led a plethora of events that have raised several thousand pounds. Her nomination added: “It seems an understatement to say that staff and students alike hold Holly in such high esteem. She is a wonderful role model to our girls, and she puts her compassion and intelligence to great use by mentoring students and organising student ambassadors for staff. Her sense of humour and clear opinions on everything mean that she is also great company, and she brings joy wherever she goes. “We feel so very fortunate to have her in our community, and we have no doubt that the world will gain a wonderful, caring and astute young woman when she leaves us in 2015.”

Sporting Achiever – Nick Isiekwe – Nicholas Breakspear School

A Year 11 pupil who is currently playing for the England U16 rugby squad. His nomination said the whole school was proud of his selection, and he has proved to play a pivotal role in securing victory for England in his first two caps.

Innovation / Project – STAGS in Colours – St Albans Girls’ School

A celebration through music, creative dance, story-telling, poetry and drama, in reflection of the school’s nationalities, culture, languages and ethnicity.

School of the Year (Primary) – Alban City School

This creative and ambitious state-funded school first opened its doors in September 2012 and the positive impact generated for pupils, parents and the wider community was swiftly apparent. With a committed governing body and a dedicated, passionate teaching team guided by an outstanding headteacher, Alban City School is already delivering on its promises. Alban City School has rapidly established itself as the first school of choice for a significant number of families in central St Albans. This popularity is not simply due to the excellent standards of teaching, superb facilities and the safe, nurturing atmosphere radiated at the school; all of which are impressive in their own right. It is also due to the school’s genuine commitment to providing a rounded experience for all pupils, regardless of ability, faith, social and cultural background.

School of the Year (Secondary) – St Albans Girls’ School

STAGS was highlighted as somewhere truly special. It offers an environment in which students are supported, nurtured and valued, with the aim of developing young women who are compassionate, grounded and have a strong sense of individual purpose, regardless of their background. The nomination said: “Life here at STAGS is lively, vibrant and filled with opportunity. Students know that if they work hard, our outstanding teachers will support them in achieving exceptional results.”

Support Staff Member – Margaret Southgate – Sandringham School

School library director of learning Margaret doesn’t spend her time sat behind her desk as she believes if the opportunities she provides are to be maximised, she needs to be out there with the students. So more often than not she can be found hearing readers, reorganising library resources to keep them fresh, helping students browse or even out around the school pushing the latest library news. Her nominator said that “26 years of magnificent, innovative, creative and supportive work at Sandringham make Margaret a truly special part of the school.”

Special Recognition – Jodie Evans-Webb – Sandringham School

Jodie was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2012 and has exhibited extraordinary determination in approaching the extreme lifestyle change that she has had to make. At an age when most girls are taking great care to perfect their appearance, Jodie had to endure a gruelling treatment regime and face up to the temporary loss of her hair along with the permanent and irreversible damage to the optic nerve resulting in her loss of sight alongside additional medical needs. Despite this diagnosis and all the setbacks which would cause most adults to lose faith in the future, Jodie has shown such determination and positivity, and she is a wonderful inspiration to all who have had the good fortune to teach or to support her in her learning. Her nomination said: “Jodie has been an inspiration to us all, staff and students. Her determination, humbleness and courage have been incredible. She has overcome the extreme nervousness and anxiety she had when she first returned to school and has been a shining example of someone who has not allowed a disability to overshadow her education or life.”

Unsung Hero – Sue Allen – St Peter’s School

This year Sue Allen celebrates 25 years at St Peter’s, where she has worked in the kitchens, as a clerical assistant, as a school governor and PSA member (both as a parent and staff member), and is now a school secretary and the site manager. In her nomination is stated that she was the engine room of the school, and “she is strong and capable, unflappable in a crisis, calm and collected, sensible and firm, and all that with a twinkle in her eye”, even taking on extra responsibilities when St Peter’s was without a headteacher for six months earlier this year.