AFTER an unprecedented year of sporting success the pupils of Whitworth Park School and Sixth Form have won the title of school of the year in The Northern Echo School Awards 2015.

The Spennymoor school scooped one of the most prestigious titles on offer at the second annual awards ceremony, held at the Xcel Centre, Newton Ayclife.

The excited audience of nearly 300 pupils, teachers and sponsors heard how Whitworth Park school could boast of 24 students gaining international and national sporting recognition in a variety of sports.

The unprecedented success for a state secondary school followed the setting up of Team Whitworth, a programme designed to make the most of sporting promise.

The hotly contested title of head teacher of the year went to Chris Horn, from King Street Primary School, in Spennymoor.

One nominee said Mr Horn had completely changed the school for the better, children and parents “all love him” and “his dedication is amazing and he deserves recognition.”

Another nominee said the school has gone from strength to strength under his leadership and it had become “the one parents are desperate for their children to go to”.

PE teacher Karen Phillips from Darlington School of Mathematics and Science won the inspirational teacher award after judges heard how she was “a fantastic role model for teachers” and how “an extraordinary, selfless and long-term act” by Karen and her family enabled a pupil to continue their education at the school.

The inspirational pupil of the year award went to 16-year-old Emma Sandford-Hodgson from Woodham Academy, Newton Aycliffe.

Judges heard her described as “quite simply an amazing individual who overcomes every obstacle to excel at everything she does.”

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She overcame personal tragedy to pursue her studies with vigour and even perform a solo in the school Christmas concert.

The title of class of the year went to The Engine Heads from Greenfield Community College in Newton Aycliffe. The pupils, helped by their teacher, Katy Milne, have created a “school in the cloud” lab where computers are used for self organised learning and to communicate with people as far away as India.

Support staff member of the year was won by Julie Park from the Darlington School of Mathematics and Science.

Heighington Primary School was winner of the healthy living school of the year award.

West Park Academy Eco Warriors won the go green project of the year.

Durham Trinity School won the active community school award.

The innovation award went to Sarah McGinnety from Woodham Academy, Newton Aycliffe.

Winners of the care and conservation category was Edmondsley Primary School Bishop Barrington School in Bishop Auckland won the school newspaper/website of the year.

Durham Trinity School and Sports College won the active community of the year award.

All the winners received an inscribed glass trophy and a framed certificate.

The overall sponsor of The Northern Echo School Awards was the Durham Miners Association. Other sponsors included: Health Education North-East, Darlington Dental Clinic, Hays Travel, Accenture, Thirteen, Teesside High School and Red House School.