ISA Awards

The ISA Awards is an annual event that celebrates success in our Members’ schools, and recognises the breadth of quality and provision in independent education across the UK.

They offer an excellent opportunity to demonstrate your school’s high quality provision, and to celebrate your success with staff and fellow ISA Members. The Awards also allow you to promote your achievements both to existing and prospective parents, and the wider community, by providing schools with national publicity and the chance to proudly promote this via their own marketing platforms.


ISA Awards 2022

Now open for entries!

The deadline for entries is Friday 29 July 2022.

Only schools whose Head is in ISA Membership are eligible to enter. We welcome entries from all ISA Members and are happy to receive entries from previous winners and shortlisted schools. Schools may enter up to four award categories.

Highly commended entries will be announced in September and will receive a certificate and logo to use for their marketing purposes.

Our three finalists per award will also be announced in September. The winners are announced at our Awards Ceremony, which is held at the Autumn Study Conference in November.

Click here for the entry form and to view the full entering guidelines.

This year’s categories are as follows:

ISA Award for Excellence and Innovation in Early Years

Applications are sought from schools that can evidence the outstanding quality of their Early Years setting (open to any ISA school with Early Years, Pre-Prep or Nursery provision, including Reception). Evidence can be wide-ranging and may include EYFS inspection outcomes or value-added data, or evidence for innovation in provision with an emphasis on the curriculum.

*ISA Junior School of the Year Award

ISA Junior or Prep schools are among the best in the country, but this award isn’t about resources or buildings. To be ISA Junior School of the Year, applicants will be able to demonstrate how their school makes a positive difference to the educational outcomes of the children in its care. Those outcomes can be in any/multiple areas of a school’s operation, such as special educational needs, sport, the arts, curriculum or the co-curriculum. It could be sustained excellence in personal or academic outcomes, or even the success of an individual child over and above expectations. The winner of this prestigious award will be able to demonstrate the clear cause-and-effect between decisions made by the school and the exceptional outcomes achieved. You don’t have to enter other awards categories to be eligible for this award.

*ages 0-13

*ISA Senior School of the Year Award

ISA Senior schools are among the best in the country, but as in the Junior Award, this isn’t about investment in resources or buildings. To be ISA Senior School of the Year, applicants will be able to demonstrate how the school makes a positive difference to the educational outcomes of the children in its care. Those outcomes can be in any/multiple areas of a school’s operation, such as special educational needs, sport, the arts, curriculum or the co-curriculum. It could be sustained excellence in personal or academic outcomes, or even the success of an individual child over and above expectations. The winner of this prestigious award will be able to demonstrate the clear cause-and-effect between decisions made by the school and the exceptional outcomes achieved. You don’t have to enter other awards categories to be eligible for this award.

 *ages 11-18

ISA Award for Outstanding Sport (*Small School)

Applications are sought from small schools that demonstrate evidence of their outstanding sporting provision in relation to opportunities offered to pupils. Judges are looking for schools that have successfully implemented an all-round approach to sport, and applicants are strongly encouraged to demonstrate how their school encourages a culture of participation and inclusivity in sport, as well as outlining individual sporting achievements. 

*1 class per year group

ISA Award for Outstanding Sport (*Large School)

Applications are sought from large schools that demonstrate evidence of their outstanding sporting provision in relation to opportunities offered to pupils. Judges are looking for schools that have successfully implemented an all-round approach to sport, and entrants are strongly encouraged to demonstrate how their school encourages a culture of participation and inclusivity in sport, as well as outlining individual sporting achievements. 

*more than 1 class per year group

ISA Award for Excellence and Innovation in the Performing Arts

Judges are looking for evidence of going the extra mile in terms of performing arts provision and achievement; including innovative teaching techniques, or an offering of extraordinary opportunities for all pupils, with clear evidence of how this has helped to enhance their learning. This category covers dance, drama, instrumental music and choral singing. Schools wishing to apply may evidence just one or all of these areas.

ISA Award for Excellence and Innovation in Art and Design

Judges are looking for evidence of going the extra mile in terms of art and design provision and achievement; including innovative teaching techniques, or an offering of extraordinary opportunities for all pupils, with clear evidence of how this has helped to enhance their learning. This category covers fine art, sculpture, design and photography. Again, schools wishing to apply may evidence just one or all of these areas.

ISA Award for Outstanding Provision for Learning Support

Schools applying for this award may wish to say what they do to recognise each child’s needs, what imaginative support they have put in to match those needs, how they monitor progress or how they help all their staff to have an input into each child’s development. Entrants are encouraged to show clear outcomes for each child, and to provide some success stories (these do not have to be linked to exam results).

ISA Award for Excellence in Pupil Personal Development

Judges will look for schools that are instilling transferable life skills in their students, which could be gained from extra-curricular activities, or any other initiatives. Schools can include projects that develop pupils’ mental agility and resilience, provided there is evidence on how this prepares them for the challenges of a changing future.

ISA Award for Outstanding Engagement in the Community

Applications are sought from schools that can evidence an outstanding contribution to the wider community, and the positive impact it has on all those involved. This could be both local community projects, state school partnership work, sharing best practice or facilities, projects with schools and communities overseas and charitable work.

ISA Award for Excellence and Innovation in Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

Applications are sought from schools that can evidence a commitment to promote equality, diversity and inclusion for all pupils and staff, regardless of any protected characteristics (including age, disability, gender, ethnicity, religion or belief, sexual orientation or background). Judges will be looking for innovative ways that schools celebrate diversity and promote inclusion throughout the whole school community. This may be through initiatives such as transforming staff recruitment and retention, a whole school focus on a culture of inclusion, student-led projects, diversifying the curriculum, or increasing diversity on the governing body.

ISA Award for Excellence and Innovation in Mental Health and Wellbeing

The Award welcomes applications from schools with forward-thinking methods of ensuring pupil and staff wellbeing. Judges will be looking for innovative projects that schools have implemented to support pupils and staff with mental health issues, as well as evidence of how the school promotes a whole-school positive culture. This may include projects involving mindfulness or resilience, or initiatives that help with prevention and enhance student and staff welfare, self-esteem and inclusion within the school.

ISA Award for Excellence in Sustainability (returning for 2022)

This Award encourages applications from schools that have engaged with environmental education within the curriculum or have demonstrated their green credentials in reducing their carbon footprint, or working in the community or further afield to improve habitats and encourage biodiversity. Schools should demonstrate how they are inspiring the next generation to make the changes necessary to avoid the irreversible impact that global warming will have on our planet.

ISA Award for Innovation in Independent Education (new for 2022)

Independence from the state system gives ISA Members the opportunity to do things differently where it will be in the best interests of their pupils. It means they can tailor what they offer to the young people in their care and provide a personalised and high quality education for them. This award is designed to celebrate the different ways that schools across our membership have been able to offer innovative approaches to education.

Applicants are encouraged to demonstrate ways in which their school is developing and implementing innovative approaches to education. Judges will be happy to consider innovation in the broadest sense. They will be looking for evidence of both innovative approaches and the positive impact on pupils.