CET schools, staff and students enjoyed a night of celebration at an awards evening honouring the very best of education in Cumbria.
The trust’s academies and staff were presented with no fewer than six top accolades at the Golden Apple Awards, held annually to honour teachers, support staff, students and achievement in education.
Leading the way was The Whitehaven Academy, named Best Secondary School, and which also celebrated three other awards, including the night’s major closing prize, a Lifetime Achievement Award for SENCO and special needs advisor Jos Cole.
Trust CEO Lorrayne Hughes said it was fantastic for staff and students to have so much of their hard work and enterprise rewarded.
She said: “It’s important to take time to celebrate our achievements and I’m absolutely delighted that our trust and schools are being recognised for the great work that happens on a daily basis.
“My congratulations to all the winners and finalists and thank you to everyone who does the very best for our students and pupils.”
Here’s a rundown of CET’s other Golden Apple winners:
Best Secondary School
The big prize for secondary education went to The Whitehaven Academy which is having quite the year, with its move to a long-awaited new build in February (and an official opening to follow next month).
Headteacher Nigel Youngman said the school serves a fantastic community, which is passionate about the success of students.
He said: “We feel delighted that the deep commitment of staff, the support of a caring trust and the belief of our families has been recognised.”
Best Education Profession Newcomer
Also from TWA is Sophie McCall who took the award in this prestigious category.
She said: “Being a new teacher sometimes it can be hard to tell if you are doing well, this reminds me I am doing a good job.
“Day to day it is often easy to forget to reflect on and think about the positives and small successes of the year and the great relationships my students and I have made.
“I feel that for most students I teach, it is taking time to get to know them in and outside of lessons that they appreciate, and this is what make the difference to them. Like going to watch them play sports on the school team or making the effort to speak to them at break or lunch time.”
David McCabe, lead for the Outdoor Learning programme at TWA, is determined to ensure that students are inspired and those disaffected reconnect with education through the programme.
Students who have felt isolated and disconnected through the challenges of Covid have found themselves empowered and discovered skills they previously hadn’t even considered – thanks to David’s commitment.
One Year 9 pupil said: “Outdoor learning has made me want to come to school and has given me a reason to behave in school.”
Programme partner praise included: “He ensures the programme is not a ‘tag on’ – it is there to help and develop the learning of the young people involved.”
Best support staff
Workington Academy’s Lesley Robertson, Year 7 group manager and a member of the academy’s safeguarding team, has been at Workington for an incredible 31 years. Previously she has been a higher-level teaching assistant, teaching assistant and support for learning manager.
She said: “Education is something I have always been passionate about. I love my job and there is never a day where I don’t want to go to work.”
Best Community Initiative Award
This award went to Donna Lund and Jackie Bradley from Newtown Primary in Carlisle for their Friendship through the Generations scheme.
The school encourages links between pupils and elderly residents of nearby Barchester House Care Home. The two groups enjoy social get togethers, including games afternoons, bingo and craft sessions, tea parties and other social activities.
They regularly write letters to each other and even took part in the Queen’s Green Canopy when they spent an afternoon together in the garden planting trees.
Donna said: “The scheme has brought a lot of joy to both the young and the old. The look of delight on all faces when visits take place is undeniably one of the highlights of the scheme. It brings together different generations for a common purpose – learning from each other and enjoying each other’s company.”
Jackie added: “I feel extremely lucky to have been part of the Friendship scheme. The engagement between the penpals and companions has been tremendous, and this is something we wish to continue indefinitely. Everyone involved gets so much joy from the project.”
Congratulations and thank you also go to our other finalists. It was amazing to have so many CET representatives chosen in their different categories.
Best Teaching Assistant
Gail Hammell returned to working in education at Whitehaven in February 2019 and was nominated for her support for students who were working remotely during Covid.
Gail willingly adopts a multitude of roles from supporting key individuals in class to being a general all round support to all students she comes across – nothing is too much trouble.
Gail said: “The staff and the students are equally amazing. They have all helped me in my role as a TA and were really welcoming.”
Laurie Black, Deputy Director of Learning at TWA and Senior Mental Health Lead, with project Brilliant Cumbria.
This innovative project revolves around Year 9 pupils teaching other pupils how to develop coping strategies to protect their wellbeing.
Laurie said: “It’s a really good project and goes across the whole community, bringing everyone together.”
The aim is to share positive wellbeing messages, with students going into local primary schools and workshops to discuss with other children how to become more positive and overcome the difficulties facing them. It also involves training young people as ambassadors to help the wider community.
Laurie added: “The kids have run it all themselves, they’ve been the people who have grabbed the bull by the horns.”
TWA’s Sophie Murfitt is described by teaching staff as highly motivated, diligent, conscientious, kind – and she makes a mean chocolate brownie!
Sophie is a natural Senior Prefect. Students naturally turned to her as she encouraged, cajoled, motivated and listened to her peers.
As lead of the school’s Eco Committee, she secured metal bottles for every student and staff member, challenged school leaders until there were multiple recycling bins in the canteen and led her peers in running assemblies to educate other students in the importance of eco awareness.
She would also show new staff around the school and acted as a role model for younger students while maintaining a strong academic drive and achieving excellent results.
Best Secondary School
Workington Academy joined The Whitehaven Academy in providing CET with two of the three finalists in this category.
Workington received a Good judgement from Ofsted at its most recent inspection in March and was a finalist in this category for the second year running.
Des Bird, CET’s Director of Secondary Education and Executive Headteacher at Workington, said: “The school has transformed over the last few years and become really successful and incredibly popular in terms of new students joining.
“It’s a very different school now; it’s much bigger for a start and we’re really delighted with the way things are going and we just want to continue to get better.”
Best Primary School
Yanwath Primary in rural Eden was rated Good by Ofsted inspectors earlier this year.
Inspectors praised the school’s embracing of its natural environment with a curriculum ‘tailored to capture pupils’ interest in the local area and beyond’.
Executive Headteacher Cate Floyd said: “We are immensely proud. The parents, staff and pupils have worked incredibly hard.”