A Whitley Bay school which saw a remarkable turnaround in fortunes has now been shortlisted for a prestigious national award.
Monkseaton High School, in Seatonville Road, is one of just eight schools in the country – and the only one in the north of England – to be selected as a contender for the Times Education Supplement’s (TES) Secondary School of the Year prize, viewed as education’s version of the Oscars.
And should Monkseaton win, with the awards being held in London in June, then they will be vying for the title of Overall School of the Year in Britain.
It is a remarkable honour for a school which has dramatically risen in standards in recent years and earlier this year received ‘outstanding’ status following its latest Ofsted inspection.
Headteacher Tracy Crowder told the News Guardian: “The news that we’d made the shortlist is wonderful.
“As a school we’re looking to improve all the time, but it was still a bolt from the blue when we were told Monkseaton was on the shortlist. Everybody here is thrilled about it.
“I’m very proud because it is another recognition of the hard work that staff and students have put in.”
The ‘outstanding’ award came just two-and-a-half years after inspectors rated the school as ‘requires improvement’.
Monkseaton then pulled off the incredibly rare feat of leaping two categories to join the best-ranked schools in the country.
In a glowing report, inspectors judged the school on five main areas – achievement, teaching, behaviour, leadership and post-16 study programmes, and found exceptionally high standards across the board.
Mrs Crowder, who has been in charge for just over three years, was praised for her ‘excellent’ leadership and for creating a culture in which pupils and staff ‘flourish’ and ‘excel’.
Ofsted also noted that the progress of young people is now ‘significantly better than that seen nationally’.
All of this has added up to national recognition in the TES awards.
A spokesman for the TES said: “The aim of the awards is to recognise excellence and reward the professionalism and flair of those making an outstanding contribution to primary and secondary schools in the maintained and independent sector.”
No other English secondary school north of Nottingham made the shortlist.
The seven other schools shortlisted alongside Monkseaton are: Ark St Alban’s Academy, Birmingham; Fulham Cross Girls School, London; Rushcliffe School, Nottingham; Sir John Leman High School, Suffolk; St Gregory’s Catholic Science College, Middlesex; St Ninian’s High School, Glasgow; and Stanley Park High, Surrey.
The winner will be selected at an awards ceremony due to be held at London’s Grosvenor House Hotel, Park Lane, London on Friday, June 24.