School House Awards 2024

Having successfully launched our first award last year, Victoria Lambert reveals the complete range of categories for 2024 – and encourages schools to start entering now

Independent schools have never looked like a better choice: bursting with dynamic educational ideas and inspiring teachers, situated in well-maintained and sustainable campuses and buildings, offering an unimaginable range of extracurricular activities and sporting opportunities – and, most importantly, producing the sort of exam results, and senior school and university admissions that parents rightly expect. With so much to applaud, at School House, we are delighted to celebrate also some of the less tangible benefits that independent schools are developing. We want to cheer on those schools getting it right in terms of pastoral care, mental health support, environmental awareness, those with local partnerships, and those who have really gone beyond the standard charitable work. 

This year sees two new categories: Alumnae Relationships Champion and Social Mobility Champion. We are delighted the latter award is sponsored by Christ’s Hospital School, which has been leading the way in improving life chances for underprivileged youngsters since its inception nearly 500 years ago. Having outlasted extraordinary challenges – world and civil wars, the Plague, the industrial and internet revolutions, as well as several location changes, the school is proof that with the right ethos and charitable purpose, independent schools are here to stay. 

Last year we had more than 100 entries; the winning schools ranged from country preps to city senior schools. These included London prep school Bassett House where Helen Milner, Head of Admissions and Marketing, says, ‘We are absolutely delighted to have been selected as the winner of the 2023 School House Magazine/ISEB award for Pastoral care. We pride ourselves on the strong pastoral provisions we offer at Bassett House, and this is echoed throughout the parent and staff community too. To be formally recognised for our efforts means a huge amount to us all.’

At Saint Ronan’s in Kent the mood is also upbeat; Headmaster William Trelawny-Vernon explains: ‘Receiving two awards, one for Kindness and one for Animal Support Champion, in the inaugural School House/ISEB awards programme was, quite simply, overwhelming.  

‘These two handsome trophies, now gracing our entrance hall, embody the very special characteristics shared by our school community. So, from the smallest and fluffiest farm rabbit to the tallest and most earnest Saint Ronan’s prefect, a huge and hearty thank you.’ 

Hopefully, heads across the country are even now getting ready to submit their entries for this year’s awards; as ever, results will be announced in the Scholarships, Bursaries and Champions edition of the magazine, in October.  

We are expecting the highest standard of entry and are confident we will be impressed. Let battle commence!

How to enter?

Schools can enter as many categories. Entries are now open and will close on July 10. CLICK HERE TO ENTER

The winners will be announced in our Scholarships, Bursaries & Champions 2024 issue in October.

Categories

Pastoral Care Champion

Raising confident young people ready to live up to their potential requires attention to more than their education. The best schools turn out well-rounded young people who are emotionally aware and resilient thanks to their excellent pastoral teams.

We’re looking for recommendations for care that exceeds expectations – whether it’s a one-to-one tutoring system that can spot problems like bullying before they develop or a network of support which wraps around students to make sure they are thoroughly supported in mind, body and spirit. A well-developed system of communication with parents is also something that impresses.

Mind Champion

Many parents’ number one concern is whether their child is feeling OK.  The pressures of the modern world and social media in particular are leading to worrying increases in the amount of children reporting anxiety and depression. We’d like to hear what steps schools are taking to ensure that those students who are struggling get the best possible support – and that it is fully integrated with teachers and parents.

Sustainability Champion

Our Green Champion will be a school where environmental awareness is a verb, not a noun. With the astonishing range of eco-endeavours underway, schools will have to impress the judges with a really innovative plan, which puts sustainability and green concerts at the heart of the operation. 

Animal Support Champion

School House believes animals of all shapes and sizes belong in our schools; whether that’s guinea pigs brought from home to keep boarders cheery, or ponies to be used in competition. From the headmaster’s dog who’s always available for cuddles, exotica like llamas and wallabies popping up unexpectedly, or farm animals which are there to be reared and sent to market, animals have many roles to play at school. We’re looking for some special, unexpected stories of how animals are used in the most interesting educational way.

Local Partnerships & Community Champion

Independent schools are rightly collaborating more often with local academies and primaries, sharing resources and even lessons to justify their place in the community. This trend is a powerful signifier of change in the sector and we know that many independents are justly proud of how much they have achieved already and their plans to widen their charitable purpose. We can’t wait to hear them. 

Charitable Work Champion

Whether home or abroad, students at many schools enjoy working in and supporting settings that take them from their comfort zone. That might be an orphanage in Cape Town or an elderly persons’ home in London. We’re interested in schools that are really exploring the concept of what it means to do good for others and seeing the results it has on students. 

Social Mobility Champion (Sponsored by Christ’s Hospital School)

One of the most vital functions of modern independent schools is how well they improve the life chances of their least privileged students. So this award goes to the school which seeks out those children who will benefit by a place – whether that is for academic or social reasons. This isn’t just about A grades but the sort of life-changing power of a rounded and supportive education.

Alumni Relationships Champion

The school network is celebrated in this award; we’re looking for schools which have built a devoted base of former pupils – where they support current students into the world of work, or offering financial support by contributing to bursary pots – plus enjoying the continued community spirit of their school association. It says much about a school that it engenders lifelong loyalty as well an ability to work in a creative way to get this kind of priceless support.

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