BE Awards 2023: Education Institution of the Year

Essex's Ormiston Park Academy is the winner of the 2023 Education Institution of the Year award.

In two years, Ormiston Park's basketball programme has grown exponentially.

With teams at every age group across both boys and girls playing borough, county and Jnr. NBL, as well as three teams in the Jr. NBA competition, the sport is huge for the school. 

Basketball is offered every day from 7:30am breakfast sessions, four separate lunch break sessions, one-to-one and small group training throughout the school day and two hours after school.   

The whole school supports the programme, with teachers even allowing students to leave lessons early to attend important games. 

A perfect sport to focus on

With the programme going from strength-to-strength, last year an international camp to Spain was arranged, with a follow up involving twice as many players planned for this year

The school has also made links with a school in the USA and are planning exchange trips for the near future.

Two students have already gained scholarships to the USA and training at OPA has played an integral part of their journey.

"Ormiston Park is a small secondary school, with around 700 students. Based in a competitive area with other schools, there are plenty of options for students locally," said Careers Lead and Teacher of PE Kelly Montgomery. 

"In September 2021, the head teacher said we needed a sport that we could focus on and decided basketball might be a good choice, with just five players on the court for our small intakes. 

"He employed Diana Naydenova-Goryanova (2023 BE Awards Teacher of the Year runner up), an ex-international player, as our full time coach.

"Around 20 students have moved schools to come to OPA just to work with coach Diana after seeing the professional set up that has been created.  The players have access to top quality coaching for many hours per-week, for free." 

Many students (male and female) have joined community clubs after starting their basketball journey at OPA and falling in love with the sport, a further testament to the work being put in by the school.

"The programme is more than just basketball, though. The players are part of a family, they make great friends, have fun and become more disciplined in all areas of their lives," added Montgomery.

"The feedback from parents has been incredible, with so many saying that the programme has changed their child for the better. We now have a cheerleading squad and games are a big deal at OPA, with spectators filling the sports hall."

What an inspiring story, and well done to Ormiston Park. A shout out also to North East's Jesmond Park Academy and Harris Academy Merton in London for joining OPA in this year's national shortlist.

OPA's award continues a two week period where national recipients of the 2023 Basketball England Awards are being announced.

Winners from across BE's ten regions were announced in March, with those recipients then shortlisted to narrow down the field for each national winner.

Ormiston Park and others will be recognised for their achievements over the coming days, leading up to another cohort of selections receiving the prestigious "Services to Basketball" award on Sunday, 9 June 2024.