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Work experience vital as Nottingham alternative provision school wins prestigious national award

The work of a Nottingham school for pupils excluded from mainstream education has been recognised at the Tes Schools Awards, one of the biggest nights in the UK education calendar which was held on Friday 13th November.

Stone Soup Academy won the Alternative Provision School of the Year award, as the judges applauded its work providing job experience and placements for their 80 students.

In the school’s submission to the awards, they wrote, “We wanted to give our students a future so they might care more about the present – they might not get involved in crime and violence if they had something to lose – so we set about creating this future for our students.”

Staff decided the key to the success of creating futures was to involve businesses and the local community, so they set up partnerships with 12 local businesses, which offered job experience and placements. Two students were permanently employed and two were offered apprenticeships as a result.

Julie Oliver, head of human resources at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, one of the partners of Stone Soup Academy, said that students had gained confidence and skills, and sometimes a job. She said: “Those who have turned 16 over the course of the programme have applied for and been successful in gaining part-time employment. I see this as a real success and an opportunity that they wouldn’t have had without the confidence, support and belief of Stone Soup Academy.”

Meanwhile Stone Soup Academy is performing well in other areas: attendance has reached above 80 per cent (while the average is 62 per cent for Alternative Provision settings nationwide), 100 per cent of all students achieved qualifications and 82 per cent achieved GCSE English and Maths.

Lead judge Vijita Patel, principal at Swiss Cottage School Development and Research Centre, added: “What’s fantastic is that, in some of the responses, the families articulate ‘getting their child back’. So the impact they are having for families is quite profound.”

Kevin Wildrianne, Vice Principal of Stone Soup Academy said on winning the award: “We are immensely proud. This award is for all the staff and pupils here and is testament to the family environment we have at the academy.”

Chief judge of the Tes Schools Awards and Editor of Tes magazine Ann Mroz said:

“The Tes Schools Awards are the Oscars of education, recognising and celebrating everything that’s great about our schools and school staff.

“These awards are for the 2018-19 academic year. It’s evident from the entries how hard and how imaginatively school staff were working to give children a great education. Since then, of course, they have had a pandemic to contend with. But this has only served to underline their commitment to the children in their care. They have worked their socks off to make sure children are learning and are safe. So we congratulate all winners but we also salute each and every person working in our schools today.”

The Tes Schools Awards were held virtually for the first time to comply with coronavirus regulations. In previous years the awards ceremony has been held at the Grosvenor Hotel, on London’s Park Lane.

For the full list of winners of the Tes Schools Awards,


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