York schools celebrate after scooping national award nominations

Fiona Dudley with her class, at York Steiner School. The children are dressed for rehearsals of their play about one of the Norse myths
17 Apr 2015 @ 4.37 pm
| Education

Two York schools are celebrating after scooping nominations for awards regarded as the Oscars of the the education world.

One of the city’s smallest schools has scored a particularly amazing double, being shortlisted in two categories in the TES School Awards.

York Steiner School in Fulford is up for the Creative School Of The Year.

And its class 4 teacher Fiona Dudley is in the running for Teacher Of The Year in a primary school.

Meanwhile Manor CE Academy has scored a nomination in the International School category – recognition of its global outlook.

The awards are run by the education newspaper the TES, formerly known as the Times Educational Supplement.

Special sleepover

York Steiner School has only 210 pupils from 130 families. It won through to the shortlist after an assessment of its unique curriculum and approach to learning and teaching.

One of the projects highlighted in its awards submission was a yurt building project taken on by children in Fiona’s class.

They cut and stripped the frame poles, and made a steamer used to bend them into shape. Washing and carding fleeces, felting the wool and sewing the cover was all done by the students.

Finally, the yurt was ready for the class trip to a farm on the North Yorkshire Moors. Here the children had the unparalleled experience of sleeping in a dwelling which they had made themselves, largely from materials they themselves had sourced.

Fiona said:

I’m absolutely delighted for the children, the teachers and the parents. It’s such a supportive community that the honour of being shortlisted belongs to everyone who plays a part in the life of the school.

To know that the judges feel we are among the best in the country makes us all incredibly proud.

Magnificent Manor

National acclaim: Manor CE Academy
National acclaim: Manor CE Academy

Manor School, Nether Poppleton, is up for the International award thanks to a series of projects which reach out across the world.

Its students work with a youth centre in Malawi, and in Romania with the Cry In The Dark charity.

Manor has also undertaken e-twinning with schools on the continent through European Classrooms, and the latest French exchange students are currently in school.

Thomas Allison, who is deputy head of the languages department at Manor School, said:

It’s extremely important for every school to be a global citizen, and to have international and inter-cultural understanding.

Students get a lot of of being able to integrate and socialise with people from other cultures, and understand that the world doesn’t stop in England. There’s so much more out there that they can experience.

He said that the connections forged at school often continue after pupils have left. Former Manor students have returned both to Malawi and Romania after leaving the school.

“It’s like the Oscars of education,” Thomas said of the TES awards. “We are very surprised and very excited.”

The TES School Awards take place at London’s Grosvenor House Hotel on Friday, June 19. Last year’s ceremony was hosted by comedian and actor Hugh Dennis.

Different approach to school

York Steiner School is one of 33 such schools in Britain. Pupils have the same teacher for main lesson blocks for eight years, until they are 14 years old.

The curriculum sees knitting regarded as highly as maths. Arts, crafts and practical skills are an essential balance to subjects like humanities, science and mathematics, in a child’s development.

An underlying philosophy is “not to turn out academics on some educational production line,” the school says. Instead the aim is to “help each child develop their own inner confidence and to do everything to the best of their ability”.

As a result, students go on to achieve outstanding academic results at the best universities and colleges, enjoy successful careers in the science and the arts, establish artisan enterprises and sustainable local businesses.

– York Steiner School

The school has no headteacher and is run as a cooperative rather than through a formal hierarchy.

It is a private school and depends on parental contributions to cover most of its costs. Each year the school publishes its recommended contribution rates, but families unable to pay the recommended rate contribute 10-13% of their gross family income.

The school says:

We are proud to say that, from 1980 to the present day, no family has been turned away from our school simply through their limited ability to make a financial contribution.

Manor’s new era

Meanwhile Manor CE Academy is looking forward to a new and exciting future after joining forces with Poppleton Ousebank Primary School to create a multi-academy trust.

The new organisation, the Hope Learning Trust, York, came into effect on April 1 and will mean the two schools will work more closely together for the benefit of children and young people.

As part of the process, Poppleton Ousebank became an academy, which took it out of local authority control.

Both schools – classified by Ofsted as ‘Outstanding’ – will keep their separate names and existing admission arrangements, but will share resources.

Brian Crosby, principal at Manor CE Academy, said:

Hope Learning Trust, York, will coordinate an holistic education vision in north west York for children and young people aged between three and 16.

It will maintain and develop high standards across all schools in the trust and pool both resources and wisdom.