Sedgefield Community College, a member of Laidlaw Schools Trust, has been awarded Secondary School of the Year in the Tes Schools Awards 2021.

Secondary school of the year is awarded to schools ‘that have had an exceptional performance in the previous 12 months’, either seeing rapid improvement or ‘continued excellence.’ The award recognises schools which go beyond academic achievement and demonstrate ‘innovation’ and ‘imagination’.

The judges described Sedgefield Community College as ‘exceptional’ and recognised the ambition of staff to do their very best for students. Tes highlighted how the school has and continues to manage the challenges of Covid-19. In spring last year, it joined the Laidlaw Schools Trust, through which it provides extensive support to other schools in the region. The role of Sedgefield Community College in the development of more than 100 trainee teachers each year was also recognised.

Judge Christine Gilbert said: “Sedgefield Community College is an exceptional school, which has provided an excellent education for its students over many years. The passion, determination and ambition of all involved in the school to do their very best for students shines through all aspects of school life. This year, Sedgefield has not only continued to develop well, managing the complexities of the pandemic with characteristic initiative and drive, but has also extended even greater support to other schools.”

As well as the Secondary school of the year, Sedgefield’s Science team won the award for Science, technology and engineering teacher or team of the year.

Judge Jo Foster said: “The innovative use of technology, from Instagram to podcasts, helps students really engage with the subject beyond the classroom. Their focus on careers in science, technology, engineering and maths enhances the curriculum and encourages students to be aware of a world of opportunities waiting for them beyond the school gates.”

A physics revision podcast is just one of the ways in which the science department at Sedgefield Community College is engaging students, paving the way for a Beyond the Curriculum science podcast.

Ms Foster added: “Sedgefield Community College demonstrates a real commitment to excellent outcomes for all students. A fantastic department and a very well-deserved award.” The awards follow further success as last week Sedgefield Community College was one of three secondary schools in the country to receive the Silver Award for Making a Difference –
Secondary School of the Year. Furthermore, Deputy Head Teacher, Craig Hutton, was given a Special Commendation for Digital Innovator of the year for his work on the digital strategy.

Geoff Robinson, Principal, said “Sedgefield Community College was rated as outstanding in all categories by Ofsted in 2017 after being seen as a failing school several years earlier. However, rather than seeing this as the culmination of our journey, we saw this as a springboard for further development, moving our provision from outstanding to exceptional. We believe we have a moral duty to share best practice and make a significant difference to the standards of education for as many young people as possible in the region.

“Although the pandemic has presented huge challenges for schools, Sedgefield has managed these alongside supporting other schools in the region. What’s more, the school plays a key role in the development of initial teacher trainees and early career teachers; the intention being to retain as many talented teachers in the North East as possible for the
wider benefit of the region.”

Ian Simpson, CEO of Laidlaw Schools Trust said, ‘We are incredibly proud of these achievements, on the back of last week’s Silver National Teaching Award. The volume of national recognition is testament to the hard work of staff to transform lives, not only of their own students, but also in supporting schools across the Laidlaw Schools Trust and throughout the region. Congratulations to all the staff and students at Sedgefield Community College.’