1. Understand the award criteria
This will give you a clear idea of what the judges are looking for and guide you in presenting your school’s achievements in the best light possible. You could even go one step further and address each criterion explicitly in your entry.
One Educate Awards judge explains: “Some schools choose entries that seem to me to be in the wrong category while others submit the same, or virtually the same, entry for several different categories. I would advise against such an approach.”
If the category states a date, only include projects or achievements that took place during this period.
2. Gather data and evidence
Compile a comprehensive set of data and evidence that supports your school’s accomplishments. This may include academic achievements, extracurricular activities, community involvement, and any special programs or initiatives. Collect testimonials, statistics, and examples that vividly illustrate the impact of your school’s efforts.
Please note, Ofsted reports don’t have a huge impact on the judging process so don’t let this be the main focus of the entry.
3. Tell a compelling story
Craft a compelling narrative that showcases the journey of your school’s success. Start with a brief entry summary that captures the essence of your submission and provides context for the judges. This should be no longer than 200 words.
The entry itself, which should be no more than 750 words, must detail what the individual or school/college has done to merit this award. Include results, anecdotes, testimonials, and real-life examples to bring your achievements to life. Ensure that your narrative flows logically and builds a strong case for your school’s excellence.
One Educate Awards judge adds: “Don’t do a ‘kitchen sink’ entry, i.e. chuck in everything the school is doing, by including stuff that isn’t relevant to the category being entered. Sometimes an entry can read like a school’s prospectus. The best entries not only have a good story to tell, they tell it well.”
4. Highlight the unique selling points
Identify the unique aspects that set your school apart from others. Whether it’s a groundbreaking literacy initiative, an innovative careers programme, exceptional sporting achievements or a teacher who goes above and beyond, emphasise these key points in your entry. Clearly articulate what makes your school/college, or person, special and deserving of this particular award.
One Educate Awards judge comments: “As all the judges have frequently commented, the standard of entries seems to get higher and higher, so it is increasingly difficult to pick those which should be shortlisted. So many schools now do everything you would hope and expect they would do – at a very high standard. Therefore, I am looking for entries that show schools going even further, for example, schools or staff that have innovated, introduced something particularly creative or come up with something that has been spectacularly successful or has had a dramatic impact on students’ lives.”
5. Demonstrate impact
Judges are interested in the knowing the real impact of your school’s initiatives. Clearly articulate how your achievements have positively influenced students, teachers, and the broader community. Provide measurable outcomes and showcase success stories that highlight the lasting effects of your school’s efforts.
For example, if your school has doubled its Year 7 admissions through a unique marketing strategy, then include detailed evidence of this.
6. Use visuals strategically
You can enhance your entry with visuals such as graphs, charts, images, and videos, but be aware, you can use no more than 10 images and videos must be no longer than three minutes.
Visual representations can effectively convey complex information and make your entry more engaging. Please make sure that the visuals you use are relevant, high-quality, and support the key messages of your entry.
An Educate Awards judge says: “Some schools would benefit from thinking a bit more about how they package their entry and making it more focused and easier to navigate. More does not necessarily mean better – whether it’s words, photographs or videos.”
7. Seek feedback
Before submitting your final entry, seek feedback from colleagues. Fresh perspectives can help identify areas for improvement and ensure that your entry is clear and compelling.
Also ask them to proof the document for any spelling or grammatical errors – you’d be surprised to know how many entries are submitted with mistakes!
· Read the nomination guidance and conditions of entry
· Choose the right category
· Read the category’s criteria
· Clearly state on the entry which category you are entering
· Clearly state on the entry the school/college/individual you are nominating
· Write a brief summary about the entry (200 words)
· Write the entry (750 words) with the criteria in mind
· Add no more than 10 images / 3 min video
· Check for spelling and grammar errors
· Ask someone to proof the entry
· Go ahead and submit it!