THERE'S not been much to celebrate this year, but the T&A's Education Awards 2020 were certainly a glamorous affair, even in their new world setting.

The annual ceremony was due to take place, as usual, in mid-March with more than 300 guests lined up, including a school choir, city VIPs and all those shortlisted.

But a certain pandemic put paid to that.

Instead, the 2020 awards – in their seventh year – were broadcast live from the Telegraph & Argus office in Bradford last night.

See the full list of winners in each category and all those who were shortlisted here

Steve Lowe, Sales Director at LocaliQ Bradford, the advertising arm of the T&A, hosted the ceremony and explained things might be slightly different.

This meant virtually announcing and accepting awards, using pre-recorded videos for some of the entertainment, and ultimately relying on technology.

Mr Lowe said: “I’m delighted to be here to cast a spotlight on all the amazing and exciting things that go on in Bradford schools and to celebrate some of the wonderful achievements.

“Not just the school’s, but all that are associated with them.

“Next year, we will recall the challenging times you’ve all gone through, managing children’s education through six months of lockdown.

“We look forward to the awards in 2021, where hopefully we can celebrate some of those unusual, never-to-be-repeated success stories.”

There were 30 people in total shortlisted for 10 categories, ranging from Nursery/Primary School Teacher of the Year, to Newcomer of the Year.

A short video was played for each category, outlining what the individuals, or schools, had done to be shortlisted for the award.

The nominees for each category, who could attend, then had their cameras brought onto the live feed, alongside Councillor Imran Khan, Deputy Leader of Bradford Council and Portfolio Holder for Education, Employment and Skills, who announced the winner.

It all ran as smooth as butter and sometimes different is good anyway.

That was certainly the case here, with emotions still high and people taking the opportunity to be imaginative in the way they celebrated.

There were those who enjoyed the moment of winning an award with their families at their kitchen table, to others who put on a social distanced watching party in their school halls and conference rooms.

Being online also meant a normally exclusive event was open for anyone on the world wide web to come along and celebrate education in Bradford.

Efforts were made to try keep the awards as normal as possible too.

The original ceremony was meant to be hosted at the Aagrah Banqueting Suite, in Mid Point, with a tasty meal served up to all those invited.

This was replicated by Aagrah Restaurants delivering a banquet meal to each of the 30 nominees over the 24 hours before the virtual ceremony.

As well as the joy of the awards, there was a poignant performance from Dixons Music Primary Choir with “You Will Be Found”.

A group of the school’s pupils sang their hearts out, socially distanced in the corridor, and blasted away any of the negativity the past six months has brought along.

The most touching lines were: “Because when you don’t feel strong enough to stand, you can reach, reach out your hand.

“And oh, someone will come running and I know they’ll you home.

“Even when the dark comes crashing through, when you need a friend to carry you.

“And when you’re broken on the ground, you will be found.”

This message of togetherness in tough times was reiterated in powerful videos delivered by Group Editor, Nigel Burton, and Cllr Khan.

Mr Burton said: “The coronavirus has thrown up many challenges, but our schools have met them all magnificently.

“That’s why we’re here, to celebrate everything that’s good about Bradford’s education sector – the quality of the teaching, the passion, the effort and the willingness to always go the extra mile.

“But it’s not just the teachers that make a great school of course, it’s the teaching assistants, the dinner ladies, the office administrators, the cleaners, the school crossing patrols, the governors, the volunteers and, most of all, the pupils.

“All of you, should give yourselves a pat on the back.”

Cllr Khan declared it a “privilege” to be involved with the awards again and said it was particularly important to celebrate the positive work being done in schools and colleges across the Bradford district this year.

He added: “I’m incredibly impressed and grateful for the way you have responded and risen to the unique challenges brought about by the coronavirus pandemic.

“You have found new and imaginative ways to deliver learning and support our children and young people, while keeping their safety, and that of the wider community, a top priority.

“When schools were closed to most children, at the height of the crisis, the majority of our schools remained open to provide vital support for vulnerable youngsters and children of key workers, whilst also keeping in touch with pupils and families who were home-schooling.

“The determination you displayed is a true testament to your commitment as educators, your faith in our young people and our communities.

“It fills me with immense pride to see how our services stood on the frontline during a national crisis.

“I know many parents also have a new appreciation for the remarkable job done by teachers and support staff, after trying to deliver lessons at home.”

There was also a call to action moving forward into the future.

He said: “We are committed to working in partnership with schools, colleges, families, businesses and all other organisations that share the same ambition.

“I invite everyone in Bradford to consider what they could do to support their local school – be it as a volunteer, as a governor or as a business, by offering work experience or giving pupils an insight into the world of work.

“By working together, we can ensure a great future for our young people and for the whole of Bradford District.”

You can watch the T&A’s Education Awards 2020 in full here

The video will be available for 30 days. Skip to 59:52 to avoid the prelude and reach the start of the event.

See the full list of winners in each category and all those who were shortlisted here

Keep an eye out for our supplement in Tuesday's paper next week, and online, where we'll have in-depth interviews with each winner.