‘Inspirational’ Norfolk headteacher scoops top teaching award

Simon Gilbert-Barnham, principal at Ormiston Venture Academy, with pupils after winning a Silver Pea

Simon Gilbert-Barnham, principal at Ormiston Venture Academy, with pupils after winning a Silver Pearson’s Teaching Award. Picture: Ormiston Academies Trust - Credit: Ormiston Academies Trust

An ‘inspirational’ headteacher who has helped transform the fortunes of a Norfolk secondary school has won a prestigious national teaching award.

Simon Gilbert-Barnham principal of Ormiston Venture Academy.
Picture: James Bass

Simon Gilbert-Barnham principal of Ormiston Venture Academy. Picture: James Bass - Credit: James Bass

Simon Gilbert-Barnham, principal at Ormiston Venture Academy, has won a Silver Pearson’s Teaching Award recognising his “outstanding commitment to changing the lives of the children he works with”.

Selected from thousands of nominations, he was one of just 76 Silver Award winners this year and is amongst just four winners in the Headteacher of the Year in a secondary school category.

MORE: Oversubscribed school unveils £8m expansion to welcome more pupilsSince becoming principal of Gorleston school in 2013, he has played a major part in transforming the school, which has 880 pupils and is rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted, to the point where it has been oversubscribed for the past four years.

Simon Gilbert-Barnham, principal at Ormiston Venture Academy, with fellow staff after winning a Silv

Simon Gilbert-Barnham, principal at Ormiston Venture Academy, with fellow staff after winning a Silver Pearson’s Teaching Award. Picture: Ormiston Academies Trust - Credit: Ormiston Academies Trust

He said: “I am exceptionally proud to receive this award which is recognition of the commitment that our entire community has to ensuring an education that is not only caring and exciting but is of the highest quality.

“I am honoured to walk into Ormiston Venture Academy each and every day and work together with students, staff, governors and parents who share the belief that every child deserves a world class education. It is impossible not to enjoy every moment.”


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Amongst the ideas he has fostered has been peer tutoring programmes and community outreach work, allowing students to become leaders in their own right.

Pupils Jess Smith, Millie Fisher and Tyler Munroe with their GCSE results at Ormiston Venture Academ

Pupils Jess Smith, Millie Fisher and Tyler Munroe with their GCSE results at Ormiston Venture Academy in 2018. Picture: Lionel Heap - Credit: Lionel Heap

Pupils take an active role in the development of the academy, with the Union of Venture Students given its own budget to improve the learning experiences.

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Nick Hudson, CEO at Ormiston Academies Trust, said: “We are extremely pleased that the outstanding work Simon has done at Ormiston Venture Academy is being recognised.

“Despite all of the amazing progress the school has made, he is constantly striving to continue to improve it, and above all he really listens and responds to the needs of both students and staff. Simon serves as a real inspiration and expert to academies across the Trust, and we feel privileged to work with him.”

MORE: School renames assembly hall to honour student who died from leukaemiaMr Gilbert-Barnham is now in the running for one of just 14 gold awards at the final – known as the UK’s ‘Oscars for Teachers’ – which will be broadcast on the BBC.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “My warmest congratulations go to all this year’s silver award winners. They should be proud to receive this recognition of their commitment to the profession, and the outstanding education and guidance they provide for their students.

“Teachers and school staff up and down the country consistently go above and beyond for their students, and this is especially true over the past few months.

“It is down to their hard work that schools have been able to open their gates to all pupils again for the start of the new term, and I cannot say thank you enough for everything they have done.”

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