An academy group which runs a number of Blackburn schools has received a prestigious national award recognising its support to pupils and the community in lockdown.

Star Academies, which runs Tauheedul Islam Girls’ High School, Tauheedul Islam Boys’ High School, The Valley Leadership Academy, Stacksteads, and The Olive School, Blackburn, has been honoured with the Pearson National Teaching Silver Award in the Lockdown Hero Award for Learner and Community Support category.

The accolade aims to celebrate schools and individuals who have stepped up to support others despite the extraordinary challenges presented by lockdown.

Through lockdown, Star used school kitchens to cook 100,000 hot meals for hungry neighbours and homeless people, while also providing 7,500 families with weekly food parcels.

The academy group also also delivered 10,000 hygiene packs and 2,500 stationery items with staff and pupils manufacturing 13,500 high-quality items of PPE for key workers.

As well as this, the trust also loaned pupils 5,000 devices to ensure they could easily access learning in lockdown.

The pupils also received weekly individual calls from their school, with the group training 135 mental health first aiders across schools to support pupils suffering from anxiety and depression.

Star chief executive Hamid Patel said: “This award is a wonderful celebration of our dedicated staff who have worked tirelessly throughout lockdown and beyond.

“Many Star schools are located in areas of deprivation which have been seriously affected by the pandemic.

“As a consequence, our teaching and support staff have worked with enormous commitment to ensure that pupils remain safe and well and are able to continue to access an excellent education.”

By winning the Silver Award, Star Academies has been shortlisted to win one of only 15 Gold Awards in a programme which will be broadcast on the BBC later this year.

The Pearson National Teaching Awards is an annual celebration of excellence in education, founded in 1998 by Lord Puttnam to recognise the life-changing impact an inspirational teacher can have on the lives of the young people they work with.