SIMS Independent
The Independent School Awards 2011
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The shortlist:

King’s Rochester
Investing in local sports facilities

King’s occupies a historic town-centre site between the Norman cathedral and the 12th century keep of Rochester Castle. It has always taken on building challenges and never more so than in the development of an outstanding sports provision. In 2011, the school approached Medway Council about its plans for the Stirling Centre, a council-run sports centre suffering from a long history of underinvestment. In October 2012, principal Jeremy Walker successfully concluded a partnership deal which committed half a million pounds of investment to refurbish and revitalise the centre, thereby giving the local community access to some of the best sporting facilities in the south-east as well as providing a major new sporting resource for King’s pupils of all ages. As well as transforming the worn, outdoor surfaces into seven high-quality, all-weather tennis and netball courts, the centre also offers a large, indoor sports hall, a fully-equipped gym as well as a new bar and dining area, and a function room with catering facilities. The project has increased interaction with the council and local maintained schools, while feedback from local residents has been positive.

St Mary’s School for Girls, Colchester
Creating a sustainable local environment

St Mary’s has become one of only a handful of ambassador schools for the Eco-Schools programme, run by Keep Britain Tidy. Ambassador status recognises St Mary’s ability to lead by example in its local community, inspiring others to work towards a more sustainable future. Environmental awareness is fundamental to the St Mary’s ethos: its successful eco efforts range from solar panels and recycling water on the school site, to making compost and collecting pens, jewellery and even bras to be recycled. However, it also extends beyond the school and it seeks to share knowledge and experience with local organisations. It invites local schools and organisations to see its green initiatives in action and runs training workshops in conjunction with Colchester Council. In February 2013, St Mary’s hosted an Eco- Schools conference, welcoming delegates from schools, youth and community groups and local authorities across the east and south-east of England. The school says that becoming an Eco-School is not about “eco bling” such as a wind turbine on the playing field but the small and achievable changes that can be implemented to make a positive difference to local sustainability.

Trinity School, Croydon
Using global history to engage with locals

Trinity wanted to set up a project that would simultaneously bring together the whole school in an exciting and genuinely educational initiative that would also engage the local community. The Trinity Museum project, supported by a generous grant from the Historical Association, created a temporary, pop-up museum at the school curated by trained pupil volunteers, comprising artefacts loaned by members of the school community. This was not a local history project. Parents, pupils, staff and governors were encouraged to loan a wide range of exhibits to highlight the ways in which the personal histories of people connected to the school have connections with major historical events, changes and processes across the UK and the globe. Once established, local primary schools were asked to visit and encouraged to undertake discovery trails. Local archivists and historians were also invited. The result was a fascinating display that enriched students’ historical skills but, above all, brought together the school and the local community in a simple and highly effective way. Nick Gibb MP, the former minister for schools, described it as “an innovative and engaging way to increase an understanding of history for pupils and the wider community”.
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