A leading selective sixth form that the Government has used as a model for its levelling up agenda could win thousands of pounds for its work on improving pupil mental health.
The London Academy of Excellence (LAE), a high-performing academically selective sixth form in Newham – which has been used as a model for three new sixth forms opening in Dudley, Middlesbrough and Oldham as part of the levelling up agenda – could win 250,000 dollars (£200,000) for its mental health projects.
It is one of four schools in the UK on the top 10 shortlists for the World’s Best School Prizes, launched by company T4 Education.
The LAE created a bespoke wellbeing programme for pupils, working with local psychology undergraduates to improve mental health with Year 12.
We've always been acutely conscious that we want the school to be a supportive and nurturing environment rather than one that is a hothouseAlex Crossman, London Academy of Excellence
Pupil wellbeing ambassadors were trained to support their peers, and staff were trained on how to boost pupils’ attendance through encouraging them to link being in school to their future success.
Dunoon Grammar School, a state secondary school in Dunoon, Scotland, could win for community collaboration for its development of skills-based courses, to help stem a “brain drain” of young people from the local area, with pupils using coding to create apps to address the climate crisis for Cop26.
The Totteridge Academy, a mixed secondary school in Barnet, London, worked with a charity to transform a disused field into an area where healthy, organic school food could be grown, while St Helen’s School, a London private school, could win the prize for innovation through its use of small tutorial groups in lessons.
Alex Crossman, headmaster of the LAE, told the PA news agency that his school’s submission had focused heavily on work to support young people’s mental health.
“We’re an academically selective sixth form, albeit one that serves a predominantly disadvantaged community, but nonetheless we are academically selective and we’ve always been acutely conscious that we want the school to be a supportive and nurturing environment rather than one that is a hothouse,” he said.
Mr Crossman said this had become more “important and essential” throughout the pandemic and that they had focused on a student-led mental health network.
Educators all over the world will now be able to learn from the examples of these outstanding UK schoolsVikas Pota, T4 Education
“We operate in a system of fairly high stakes testing nationally, and we want to make sure that as we approach particularly the tail-end of Year 13 that students can continue to prosper and do well as a function of being part of a supportive community.”
The school has been used as a model for three new selective sixth forms opened by Star Academies and Eton College as part of the Government’s focus on levelling up.
Serving a disadvantaged area, the school sends a high proportion of its students to Oxbridge each year.
T4 Education founder Vikas Pota said: “I want to congratulate Dunoon Grammar School, the London Academy of Excellence, the Totteridge Academy, and St Helen’s School for making the top 10 shortlists for the inaugural World’s Best School Prizes.
“Educators all over the world will now be able to learn from the examples of these outstanding UK schools.”