The 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 country. The Awards cover everything from Early Years provision, to excellence in Performing Arts or Mental Health provision.

They offer a wonderful opportunity for members to demonstrate the high quality of their provision to parents and the wider community, and to get national publicity for their school. Schools may enter up to four Awards.

You can see the winners of the 2018 Awards here, along with the comments from our judges. 


The ISA Awards 2019

Categories are announced for the ISA Awards 2019! (Entries will open in March)

We have listened to our Members’ feedback and announced the categories earlier than usual this year. This allows schools more time to prepare their entries and to develop any provision or strategies within their school that they feel could be relevant to showcase for a particular category.

Entries will still open in March, and run through to the end of Summer Term, with finalists announced in Autumn Term. The winners are then awarded at a glittering ceremony, which is held at the Autumn Study Conference in November and hosted by an entertaining celebrity.

Please click on the Award categories below to view the criteria for entering. 

ISA Early Years Award for Excellence and Innovation in Provision

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 and value-added data, or evidence for innovation in provision with an emphasis on the Early Years curriculum.

ISA Junior/Prep School Award for Academic Excellence and Innovation

This award is open to schools with provision covering the Junior/Prep years in the 5-13 age range. Excellence could be evidenced through pupil outcomes (including value-added data) and provision via inspection evidence or other recent external recognition. Judges will also look for evidence of curriculum innovation in one or more subject and/or extra-curricular areas where the positive impact on pupils is clear.

ISA Senior School Award for Academic Excellence and Innovation

This award is open to schools with pupils in secondary and/or post-16 provision. Judges are looking for excellence and/or innovation in pupil outcomes, or curricular or non-curricular programmes. Schools with innovative programmes and approaches that are different from mainstream provision and clearly have a positive impact on pupils, however measured, are particularly encouraged to apply.

ISA Award for Outstanding Sport (Small School*)
*1 class per year group

Applications are sought from small schools that can evidence their outstanding sporting provision in relation to opportunities offered to pupils. This might include partnership work with state schools such as joint coaching schemes, or sports-related activities in the community, extensive sports extra-curricular programmes, or opportunities to access national/ international events. Applications from schools demonstrating high levels of participation in Sport across the school are particularly encouraged.

 ISA Award for Outstanding Sport (Large School*)
*more than 1 class per year group

Applications are sought from large schools that can evidence their outstanding sporting provision in relation to opportunities offered to pupils. Again, this might include sports-related partnership work with state schools or with the community, extensive sports extra-curricular programmes, or opportunities to access national/ international events. Applications from schools demonstrating high levels of participation in Sport across the school are particularly encouraged.

ISA Award for Excellence and Innovation in the Performing Arts

This Award will be presented to the school that can provide evidence of going the extra mile in terms of Performing Arts provision and achievement. This may include innovative teaching techniques, or an offering of extra-ordinary opportunities for pupils, that help to enhance their Performing Arts. This category covers areas such as dance, drama, music and singing. Schools wishing to apply may evidence just one or all of these areas.

ISA Award for Excellence and Innovation in the Fine Arts

This Award will be presented to the school that can provide evidence of going the extra mile in terms of Arts provision and achievement. This may include innovative teaching techniques, or an offering of extra-ordinary opportunities for pupils, that help to enhance their learning in the Arts. 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 Excellence in Extra-Curricular Activities

Applicants are sought from schools that can evidence their outstanding extra-curricular provision in relation to opportunities offered to pupils (in addition to sport and music which are covered in other categories). This might include CCFs, other uniformed organisations, chess clubs, debating societies, Duke of Edinburgh schemes, etc.

ISA Award for Excellence and Innovation in Mental Health and Wellbeing

ISA recognises that schools are increasingly challenged. This Award welcomes applications from schools with innovative and effective approaches that help ensure Pupil and Staff Wellbeing. This may include projects involving mindfulness or resilience, or initiatives that help with prevention and enhance pupil welfare, self-esteem and inclusion within the school. Schools that have developed effective links with mental health practitioners, working with either pupils or staff, are particularly encouraged to apply.

ISA Green School Award – New for 2019

Young people are particularly aware of environmental issues and so 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.

ISA Award for Excellence and Innovation in Partnerships

Schools that can demonstrate strong community or state sector partnerships are encouraged to enter this category. Judges will be looking for evidence of partnership working, sharing best practice, and provision of opportunities for maintained sector pupils or working with the wider community. Schools that can evidence the positive impact on their own pupils, as well as others in the community or maintained sector, are particularly encouraged to apply.

ISA Award for Successful Change Management – New for 2019

This new Award recognises that schools are rarely static enterprises and change is sometimes necessary to improve outcomes for pupils. This could be in the form of restructuring or governance, buildings change of use, or major curricular or non-curricular projects. Entries should emphasise the positive outcomes of change for pupils.

ISA Award for Outstanding Provision for Learning Support

All our schools have a diverse population. Some children will thrive once they are given additional support and ISA schools are very good at this. Schools applying for this award might evidence how they recognise each child’s needs, what imaginative support they 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. Entries may highlight individual success stories (which may or may not be linked to external exam results) particularly where a school has been instrumental in helping a child move to the next stage of education, or work.

ISA Award for Outstanding Community Involvement – New for 2019

Most schools engage with their local community for the benefit both of pupils and those who live and work in the surrounding area. Sometimes this engagement can be further afield, even in other countries, and may involve long-term educational or health-related work. Judges would particularly welcome evidence of how schools have involved their pupils in local community projects of any description.