Andrew O'Neill of All Saints Catholic College has been awarded Headteacher of the Year.
All Saints CC
Andrew O’Neill, the headteacher who with his staff is credited with transforming All Saints Catholic College in west London, has won Headteacher of the Year in a Secondary School in the Pearson National Teaching Awards. The award comes soon after the report of the school’s latest Ofsted inspection last month when the former failing school was judged outstanding on all counts.
When O’Neill arrived six years ago, it was regarded as a sink school facing possible closure.
The school is close to Grenfell Tower that was destroyed by fire in 2017, a tragedy that has had a lasting impact on the school and the surrounding community.
O’Neill’s success in the awards was revealed on The One Show on BBC One when presenter Matt Allwright, with the whole school watching, surprised him at assembly.
The school’s steel pan band played, and the rest of the students sang the Oh When The Saints. A few days later he and other “gold” award winners across 16 categories were recognised formally as among the best of the UK}s educators.
All Saints is O’Neill’s fourth school and first headship. When appointed as head in 2016, the future of the school was bleak; the buildings were in a state of disrepair, school enrolment was rapidly falling, staff morale was low and the school was at real risk of closure. In 2022, All Saints is acknowledged to be a completely different environment, both physically and academically.
In a statement, Pearson National Teaching Awards said: “Our schools are the beating heart of our communities, and these awards are a wonderful opportunity to recognise the unseen work that schools and colleges do on a daily basis, from going the extra mile to provide reassurance during uncertain times through to offering wider support to families who need it most. The gold award winners have been honoured for their incredible work supporting learners across the country. Each award winner has repeatedly gone above and beyond their role to change the lives of their students, supporting them and their families, and helping them move towards a brighter future.”
The Pearson National Teaching Awards were founded in 1998 by Lord Puttnam to recognise the life-changing impact an inspirational teacher can have on the lives of the young people they work with.
O’Neill said: “I’m so shocked to have won this award. When I saw Matt Allwright on stage in assembly to present me with my award I couldn’t believe it. I’m delighted and humbled by the whole experience. There are so many headteachers doing an amazing job and I feel very lucky to have won. What we have achieved in the last six years has been the most remarkable team effort. My talented senior leadership team and staff have proven again and again they can rise to any challenge. So this truly feels like an award for everybody. Being a headteacher is an all-consuming career, and something I couldn't have done without the support of my family.”
Education secretary Gillian Keegan said: “Many congratulations to Andrew O’Neill. His fantastic work and dedication to his students is truly an inspiration, and these awards provide well earned recognition of the work of incredible teachers and school staff up and down the country.”
The Schola Cantorum
from All Saints Catholic College will be singing at The Tablet carol service
at Farm Street Church in London on Wednesday of next week. Tickets are free.
Meanwhile, in an Advent message to all staff at Catholic schools, Bishop of Leeds Marcus Stock, chair of the Catholic Education Service, said: “As this school term draws to its close, I would like to offer my thanks to leaders, teachers, learning assistants, chaplains and all staff who work in our diocesan schools and colleges. It is the love and commitment lived out in your vocation as educators that makes a Catholic school a place where children and young people can learn and flourish, be formed in Gospel values and grow in Christian virtues.”
A new head master has been appointed at the Oratory School in Woodcote, near Reading. Dr Julian Murphy, head of Loughborough Amherst School in Leicestershire, will take up the post in September next year. He is replacing Joe Smith, who is leaving to take up another headship in London in the Autumn.