The winners of the Primary School of the Year award and the Early Years Provider of the Year award, sponsored by Suffolk County Council, have been named at the Suffolk Education Awards 2023. Here, we find out more about this year's winners.

Primary School of the Year

And the winner is… Occold Primary School

Also named this year's Overall Education Hero of the Year, Occold Primary School is a village school on the outskirts of Eye. It has close links to the community, and the staff all know the children and their families very well. 

This year it became the only school in Suffolk to receive a national Reading for Pleasure Award, recognising its promotion of reading for pleasure in and out of the classroom.

Also in 2023, Occold created a sensory room and separate sensory garden for pupils with autism and sensory processing issues, demonstrating its commitment to pupils’ emotional, physical and social development.

It also provides a range of extracurricular activities and trips, has run a successful careers fair and holds regular in-school events such as first aid training for Key Stage 2 and a Book Festival Week – creating an offering which could be considered way beyond a small Suffolk primary school.

When asked what winning this award means for Occold, executive headteacher Paul Parslow-Williams said: “We are really proud. We’re proud of the whole team. It’s a whole community effort and we’re really pleased [the Suffolk Education Awards] has recognised the importance of broadening the curriculum and making schools an inclusive place for all children.”

Head of school Emily Rowe added that the school’s goal moving forward is “spreading the word to other schools that school is for all children no matter what their needs are, and that all children can be catered for no matter the size of the school”.

Congratulations to the finalists: Rushmere Hall Primary School, St Gregory CEVC Primary School and St Helens Primary School.

East Anglian Daily Times: The winners of the Early Years Provider of the Year award with the sponsor. Left to right: Annie Woozley, Carolyn Stokes, Mandy Anderson and Christina Lewis (sponsor – Suffolk County Council)The winners of the Early Years Provider of the Year award with the sponsor. Left to right: Annie Woozley, Carolyn Stokes, Mandy Anderson and Christina Lewis (sponsor – Suffolk County Council) (Image: Matt Potter Photography and Videography)

Early Years Provider of the Year

And the winner is… Cygnets Childcare

Cygnets Childcare is a registered charity based in Great Whelnetham, near Bury St Edmunds. It offers early years education and care for children aged from two years and nine months to five years and wraparound care for children up to age 11. 

Operated by a team of volunteers and a small but dedicated staff team, Cygnets has a strong ethos of providing a secure environment for children to thrive – using a wide selection of activities and resources to support this.

Cygnets is also involved in the local community, collaborating with different groups including the Phoenix over-60s club, the local primary school, businesses and the village community centre. 

In response to the ongoing impact of the pandemic, Cygnets has provided individualised support to families including through the provision of food parcels, transport, flexible services, signposting and social events.

At the awards evening, Cygnets manager Carolyn Stokes said: “We are absolutely thrilled. Absolutely over the moon. We did not expect this. We are a small setting in a small rural village but I think the thing about Cygnets is it’s got a big heart. We are all one big happy family and we are here to do what we can for the children and their families.”

Congratulations to the finalists: Castle Fields Pre-school, Happy Tots Pre-school and Woodpeckers Private Nursery.

To find out more about all of this year's winners, please click here.

For more information and updates on the Suffolk Education Awards 2024, please keep an eye on the website at