Defeatism? Perhaps not – £100,000 prize for the school which proved Michael Gove wrong

Staff and students at Easington Academy are celebrating after being praised for their good work by the government's schools minister. Pictured is head teacher Toni Spoors.
Staff and students at Easington Academy are celebrating after being praised for their good work by the government's schools minister. Pictured is head teacher Toni Spoors.
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A SCHOOL criticised by Michael Gove for its ‘lack of ambition’ has won £100,000 for being among the best in the country.

The former Education Secretary caused controversy when he said Easington Academy and fellow East Durham Schools were places where it was possible to ‘smell the sense of defeatism’.

However, headteacher of the academy, Toni Spoors, was in London this week to pick up the £100,000 prize for being a national finalist in the 2015 Pupil Premium Awards, which recognise the best schools in the country for helping to raise the attainment of disadvantaged children.

The latest accolade follows hot on the heels of the school, which proved itself one of the region’s top performing schools in the last set of GCSE results, being chosen as a National Support School, helping others working in challenging circumstances.

And, Miss Spoors herself being appointed a National Leader of Education (NLE).

The headteacher of the Stockton Road school accepted the award from Nick Clegg, Deputy Prime Minister, and David Laws, Minister of State for Schools, at a ceremony in London.

She said the award reflects the hard work of students and staff.

The pupil premium is extra government funding which schools receive to support their disadvantaged pupils.

And, The Pupil Premium Awards reward schools which are able to provide evidence of effective strategies to improve the achievement of disadvantaged pupils and show sustained improvement in raising their attainment.

The ceremony provided an opportunity to reward and recognise the schools doing the most to raise attainment and close the attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers as well as to showcase examples of the most effective practice.

Mr Clegg said: “That’s why the Pupil Premium is so important. This year alone we have provided £2.5 billion of funding to help almost two million youngsters go further. And we are seeing results. If all Pupil Premium schools did as well as the very best, I hope we can see the attainment gap closed in the next decade.”