Published: 15:18, 12 July 2019
| Updated: 15:18, 12 July 2019
On Wednesday, (July 10) the Kent Literacy Awards 2019 revealed the county’s best school initiatives helping pupils to develop key skills and fulfil their potential.
Altogether 35 awards were presented to primary, secondary, and special schools successfully inspiring pupils to read or express themselves verbally or through the written word.
Their efforts were recognised at an awards evening staged at Hempstead House in Bapchild, near Sittingbourne, by the children’s educational charity the KM Charity Team. Sharing the hosting duties were Simon Dolby, chief executive of the charity, and Nicola Everett, head of multimedia at the KM Group.
Twenty-six schemes were awarded best in their respective district with just nine receiving the additional accolade of overall county champion.
Each winning school was presented with a framed certificate to display while champions collected glass trophies and a selection of bonus prizes donated by the awards’ judges. These prizes included a Kindle, two Amazon Fire tablets, books and vouchers, magazines, training, and a ticket to the Kent English Conference.
The special guest speakers were Roger Gough, cabinet member for education at Kent County Council, Penny Bill, education adviser at The Education People, and award-winning children’s author and illustrator Nick Butterworth. The latter gave an inspirational address to the assembled schools and drew a picture live on stage.
Mr Butterworth, who is an honorary patron of the KM Charity Team, emphasised the dual importance of child literacy and recognising the achievements of the teaching profession who are “under such pressure these days”.
He added: “Some of them go not just the extra mile but the extra ten miles – I know how much hard work goes into that.”
The author also presented three overall awards, which went to Kent Children’s University for the Best Reward Scheme in Kent; Ethelbert Road Primary School in Faversham for Best Primary School Library; and St Gregory’s Catholic School, Tunbridge Wells for Best Secondary School Library.
Ethelbert Road also received one of Mr Butterworth’s signed books while St Gregory’s was presented with his signed drawing created that very evening.
Emma Jenkins, manager at Kent Children’s University, said it was a “huge honour” to be rewarded “amongst other amazing schools for the work that they’re doing to improve literacy opportunities for children and families.”
Zoe Stembridge, a teacher at Ethelbert Road, was equally pleased that its school library, dubbed ‘Magical Story Land’, won a prize. “We use it for group reading, individual reading, we’ve even had sleep-in duvet days in there, buddy reading, and the children absolutely love it,” she said.
Kim Stanley, librarian at St Gregory’s, said: “We’ve been through hard times with budgets and various things like that. It’s quite a feat that our library is still the heart of the school, and things like this [award] are very good for morale.”
Details of the award-winning schemes have been incorporated into a digital awards programme booklet to create a best practice document. This has been sent to all schools in Kent, Medway, Bexley, and Bromley. To download a free copy, visit www.KentLiteracyAwards.co.uk.
Awards coordinator, Karen Brinkman, said: “This was one of the most difficult years in choosing the winners - all of the entries were so strong. Our winning schools are creating real excitement about all aspects of literacy from fairytale-inspired libraries to whole-school debates.
“Their students are enjoying wonderful opportunities and experiences, both in-school and elsewhere, to develop their language and vocabulary and enrich their writing.
“They are able to express informed ideas and opinions, listen to and empathise with others, and produce highly imaginative work – and as a result, become more confident and well-rounded individuals.”
The awards were supported by Kent County Council, Medway Council, Coram Beanstalk, Crown Foundation, Golding Vision, McCabe Ford Williams, Tribeca Technology Group, University of Kent, Reed Education, The Education People, KM Facilities Management, and KM Group.
Organisations interested in getting involved in the Kent Literacy Awards 2020 should contact Mrs Brinkman at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 0844 264 0291.