You are here

Celebrating those who go Above and Beyond for children with potential

Adam Rafael Holmes celebrates his Above and Beyond award

Amazing children and the people who help them achieve their potential were celebrated at the inaugural Above and Beyond Awards presentation at the ICC in Birmingham.

The awards, backed by many organisations including British Mensa, acknowledge the teachers, parents, support staff, education settings and businesses who go the extra mile to help exceptional children and young people to fulfil their high learning potential.

They also celebrate the achievements of children and young people in the UK who are 'above and beyond’ expectation for their age and who help in the wider community or are overcoming challenges in order to excel.

The presentation was hosted by maths star Bobby Seagull, who shot to fame with a particularly impressive appearance on University Challenge. Bobby entertained the audience with his story of how a weekly trip to the library fed his appetite for learning - and how his love of maths was sparked by the playing stats of his beloved West Ham!

A special guest for the afternoon was veteran television presenter and maths fan Johnny Ball, who spoke about the need to identify children with exceptional ability so that they can be nurtured and developed.

There were 11 award categories, as well as a Lifetime Achievement Award which was presented to Professor Diane Montgomery, of Middlesex University.

Professor Montgomery researches and lectures internationally on underachievement, giftedness and dual or multiple exceptionality. She has written more than 30 books, 20 study guides and more than 100 articles and chapters with major contributions to the field of high learning potential.

She provides a wealth of knowledge, understanding and experience for those working to support children and young adults with high learning potential, and for those who also have a special educational need (DME). .

Award winners 


Inspirational Young Person - an inspiring young person, aged 19 or under and with high learning potential, who has recognised a need, campaigned for or contributed to change and has inspired or supported others.

Winner - Rebecca Webb

Also shortlisted: Siena Castellon; Nawshad Mosahidur Rahman

Reason for Nomination: Rebecca is passionate about the profile of mental health in the young.  She has promoted and supported CAMHS in her local area, fundraised for Mencap and is now a blogger for the Young Minds website.

Judges' Comment: The judges remarked that Rebecca has overcome significant difficulties on multiple occasions, not just at the beginning of her life, but throughout. Rebecca has successfully overcome the physical, emotional and academic barriers she faced and has raised both money and awareness in relation to the importance of wellbeing.


Young Person’s Resilience Award - a young person with high learning potential, aged 19 and under, who has overcome the odds and achieved their goal, while facing challenging circumstances in a home/school/health/external situation.

Winner - Adam Rafael Holmes 

Also shortlisted: Robert Allcock; Ameera Ismail

Reason for Nomination: Adam has been deaf since the age of 2. His love of creative writing has led him to win several writing awards, including the Wicked Young Writer’s Award and the Ted Hughes Young Poet of the Year Award. Severe bullying incidents have dogged his school career and he currently flexi-schools, after periods of both school and home education.

Judges Comment: The judges commented that Adam had overcome a lot of disadvantages, including being bullied, and had used these barriers as tools for growth. Despite his hearing impairment, Adam has made significant academic achievement and is an inspiration for many other young people.


Inspirational Parent/Carer Award - a parent/carer who acts as a role model for children and adults in how to support and inspire children/young people with high learning potential.

Winner - James H. Oldfield

Also shortlisted: Momtaj Mahmud; Silvia Newton

Reason for Nomination: James has volunteered in several roles for British Mensa, including Junior Members and Families Officer in the North West and Volunteering Coordinator across all of British Mensa. In 2018 he founded Family Mensa – an official community within British Mensa for gifted children and their parents, re-establishing Mensa as a place for children as well as adults.

Judges Comment: The judges commented that James has worked tirelessly across his whole region, identifying new members for British Mensa and starting his own new organisation to build capacity for improvement. As well as volunteering, the judges heard that James has worked to mobilise some of the adults and the older community within British Mensa to be more active within the community of high learning potential.


Inspirational Teacher Award - to recognise the difference that an inspirational teacher can make to the development and well-being of children/young people with high learning potential.

Winner - Charles White, Prior Weston Primary School

Also shortlisted: Marina Hanchet (Herne Hill School); Gareth Weston (Mawsley Community Primary School)                                                                                     

Reason for Nomination: Charles teaches Year 5 in a very large, diverse, inner-city mainstream primary school. He is a teacher who seeks to maximise each child’s potential, within a challenging class with a great range of abilities. 

Judges Comment: The judges commented that Charles really was a ‘superhero teacher’ having conducted extra work beyond his school, for example with the Woodland Trust, and having gained the trust and respect of parents of children with high learning potential. Charles’ nomination came from a parent who said that they truly believed that he was a teacher who wanted to maximise the potential of every child.


Effective Provision in School Award - to recognise the efforts of schools to identify, support and inspire children/young people with high learning potential, their parents and other schools.

Winner - Parliament Hill School

Also shortlisted: Chestnut Grove School; Samuel Ryder Academy

Reason for Nomination: Parliament Hill School is a girl’s state secondary school which offers excellent provision for students with high learning potential. The school has a very high proportion of disadvantaged students and a rich cultural diversity with 69% non-white British students. The school works hard to ensure students are both challenged and supported throughout their secondary school career.

Judges Comment: The judges commented that Parliament Hill School offered excellent provision for high learning potential girls, using ‘teaching to the top’ methodologies, early identification and effective pastoral support. The school has 53% of pupils eligible for pupil premium, compared to 29% nationally, but it still ensures that learners are challenged and supported from the moment that they arrive. The judges also recognised that Parliament Hill is very active in supporting partner schools across Camden in their provision of high learning potential.


Effective DME Provision in School Award - to recognise effective provision within school for learners with both high learning potential and a disability, known as dual or multiple exceptionality (DME).

Winner - Heyes Lane Primary School

Reason for Nomination: Heyes Lane Primary School has a very positive and supportive ethos. They are very accepting of differences and encourage children to support each other. They work in partnership with parents, seeking support from outside agencies and encouraging DME children to discover their potential.

Judges Comment: The judges commented that Heyes Lane Primary School had excelled in collaborating with parents and that they recognised the difference that could be made through professional development and working effectively with families. The school’s SENCO acknowledged that they were not initially sure about DME, but that they then went off to develop their own knowledge-base and moved their own practice forwards as a result.


Inspirational Support Staff Award - to recognise the work of an inspirational member of support staff for high potential learners.

Winner - Jodie Fink, Newham Sixth Form College

Reason for Nomination: Jodie is an outstanding tutor who creates a rapport with all of her students, has won awards for her championing of LGBT and gone over and above in helping organise large scale educational events for her college.

Judges Comment: The judges commented that Jodie was the clear winner in this category, both for her work in supporting learners to access the necessary work experience in medical placements to get in to Oxbridge, and for her work as an outstanding tutor and a champion of gender equality. Jodie’s nominators were clear that "every setting needs a Jodie Fink!"


Inspirational Leader Award - to recognise a person who has inspired and led others within high learning potential education and/or support.

Winner - Mandi Howells, Carlton Primary School/Muswell Hill School

Also shortlisted: Aileen Hoare (North West Gifted and Talented); Rebecca Howell (Potential Plus UK); James H. Oldfield (British Mensa)

Reason for Nomination: Mandi helped Carlton Primary School to refocus its policy regarding high learning potential children, particularly from disadvantaged backgrounds. When the school redesigned the curriculum, she adapted current thinking about learning to make it child-friendly and accessible. In addition to developing the focus of teaching within the school, she also produced leaflets for parents to help them support their child with high learning potential, instigated a reading group for more able children and works with the community to make learning ‘real’ for children. Mandi shares her ideas with teachers across Camden borough.

Judges Comment: The judges commented that Mandi worked with her school to develop their thinking about facilitating discussions with learners regarding meta-cognition and self-regulation. She has actively supported professional development in other schools through Challenge Partners and she led Carlton Primary School to achieve Potential Plus UK’s High Learning Potential Best Practice Award at Gold Level before taking up the headship at Muswell Hill School, September 2018.


Inspirational Extra-Curricular Provision Award - for providers of high quality/high impact extra-curricular support to the high learning potential community. Inspirational Extra-Curricular Provision Award

Winner - Dr Catherine McEvoy, Parliament Hill School

Also shortlisted: Jennifer Norris (Potential Plus UK Surrey Explorers); Tomorrow’s Achievers

Reason for Nomination: Since training to be a teacher in 2016, Catherine has brought her background in Applied Mathematics, Physics and Astrophysics to the support of high potential learners. Co-leading the STEAM initiative at Parliament Hill School she is unerringly positive, giving up her own time to support, challenge and develop learners through a number of extra-curricular provisions.

Judges Comment: The judges commented that the extra-curricular provision led by Catherine is exactly what world-class provision should look like. Catherine leads several innovative programmes, providing opportunities for high potential learners, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds. These programmes include the Brilliant Club and Great Minds Think Again, as well as a new project STARS – Students as Researchers. This provision mirrors the excellent practice seen internationally, where young people are linked directly to experts in the field.


Effective Resource Award - for an effective resource which has enabled change in education and/or support within the high learning potential community.

Winner - NRICH Maths

Also shortlisted: The BIG Little Library by Gateacre School; Powerwood

Reason for Nomination: Nrich is a collaboration between the faculties of Mathematics and Education at the University of Cambridge. It provides thousands of free online mathematics resources for ages 3 to 18, covering all stages of early years, primary and secondary school education with a focus on developing problem solving and encouraging exploration and discussion. 

Judges Comment: The judges commented that Nrich Maths is a resource that helps all learners in developing their problem skills, but has a special relevance and impact on those with high learning potential. Nrich Maths has been around for more than 15 years and the judges agreed that this is a resource that has major currency for able mathematicians.


Inspirational Therapist Award - an inspirational therapist who has been involved in the adaptation of approaches to therapy for children/young people with high learning potential and/or dual or multiple exceptionality.

Winner - Mariza Ferreira, The OT Company

Reason for Nomination: Mariza is an occupational therapist who has adapted her practice to meet the needs of individuals with high learning potential. She has provided courses about sensory processing issues to parents of children with high learning potential, been involved in several conferences about hlp children and is working with other occupational therapists to improve their knowledge of children with high learning potential. 

Judges Comment: The judges commented that Mariza works both in the UK and internationally to support children with high learning potential. In addition to her work around sensory processing, Mariza has led the way in building the knowledge of high learning potential with fellow occupational therapists.


Pictures copyright Sam Carpenter For a gallery of pictures hosted by Potential Plus UK, click here