Haxby Road Primary Academy in York has scooped the title Primary School of the Year. Assistant headteacher Josh Hind has been declared Hero of the Year.
The school, one of seven Ebor schools in York, had already beaten 2,000 other nominations from the Yorkshire region to get to the prestigious final, held in Manchester on 17 November. The school, the first to join Ebor Academy Trust almost ten years ago, was in the running for Primary School of the Year, Wellbeing and, thanks to assistant headteacher Josh Hind, Hero of the year.
“This is an incredible honour and acknowledges what a great school Haxby Road is,” said Laura Robinson, headteacher. “When the school joined Ebor in 2014, the trust values of Excellence, Belonging, Opportunity and Respect laid the foundations for our school to provide bright futures for every child. Togetherness and inclusivity is what makes our school so unique, enabling every child to be the best version of themselves.
“The awards are a reflection of the hard work, dedication and commitment of our incredible staff team. I want to recognise the part that every person has played in supporting Haxby Road to win such treasured awards that acknowledge the hard work that goes into each and every day.
“I’m also grateful to Vital York Ltd and Dinky Groves Day Nursery for agreeing to sponsor places at the awards ceremony, so we could attend at no cost to the school.”
The nomination came from the grateful parent of an autistic child who moved to York from London. After an unhappy experience at another York primary school, they had a tour of Haxby Road and, according to the parent who prefers to remain anonymous: “What happened next has made such a dramatic difference in our daughter’s life but also the lives of us as her parents and her sister that I want to tell everyone I meet!
“The school set up a meeting with several key members of staff, us and our daughter. They talked directly to her, listened carefully, tested out ideas with her around what would help her with things she thought might be difficult. She came out of the meeting feeling as if she had been talked to equally, understood and that it might be OK trying this place. The biggest challenges in her mind were no problem for the school. There was no challenge about the things she found hard, only acceptance. She started the next day.
“We had identified that getting into the school building was a big hurdle. Someone from the team was at the gate or came to meet us at the car every day without fail, and when we realised what a strong bond she had formed with Josh Hind, her teacher and assistant head (so a man with many things to do!), he decided to be the person to meet her every day.
“There is a safe, comfortable and appealing space near the school entrance where you can go if you are dysregulated. This was so important for us in the early weeks as we all joined together to battle huge waves of anxiety. I would bring in a child, wild with extreme emotions raging within her, and Sam Smart or Jemma Tasker would immediately know what to say to lighten the mood and create space for me to recover while they engaged with my daughter. Challenges were overcome one by one until a real high point last term was her attendance at the residential trip away.
“She goes into school with her friends some days now, though always is reassured by the sight of Mr Hind coming out to meet her. She has discovered a love of English. She is considering whether she can be a teacher when she’s an adult. Or a stand-up comedian. She’d be great at both, she’s always had it inside her but she was so lost and the skilled, wonderful people at Haxby Road Primary Academy have shown her a path out.
“The group we particularly want to shout about are Josh Hind (her teacher), Jemma Tasker (SENCO), Sam Smart (Welfare Lead), Vanessa Botterill (School Office & SEN team) and of course Laura Robinson (headteacher).
“This is a story about one child, but I see the way they operate working for so many children. It’s such a joined-up approach. The class teacher, the safe space, the school office, the head teacher. Everyone that a child might encounter is immediately presented upfront so they are a known person and they behave as an ally, not an authority.”
Assistant headteacher Josh Hind, who collected Hero of the Year award, said: “It is always a pleasure to be acknowledged for any award but this truly is a reflection of a whole school approach and something for everyone to cherish. From the children to every member of staff, we are all the true heroes of Haxby Road!”
Gail Brown, chief executive at Ebor Academy Trust, which operates 23 primary schools across York, Selby, Hull and the East Riding and on the Yorkshire Coast, said the nominations had come at a special time. “What a fantastic achievement! On 9 December the trust will be ten years old and was set up initially to be able to provide appropriate support to Haxby Road,” said Gail.
“At Ebor we have been sharing ideas and best practice between our schools for coming up to ten years and the many benefits are the same now as they were almost a decade ago, when Haxby Road became our first school. We are all so much stronger together and our family of schools collectively provides enriched education for some 6,000 pupils. It is satisfying to see schools that at one time needed plenty of support themselves, are the ones now able to offer support to others.”
Photo above shows Haxby Road Primary Academy children celebrating their shortlisting in a national education awards competition with Josh Hind, assistant headteacher KS2 and Laura Robinson, headteacher. Below, shows the Haxby Road team with their trophies at the Education Awards ceremony in Manchester on Friday, from left Katie Eddon, assistant headteacher EYFS/KS1; Laura Robinson and Josh Hind.