Education professionals star in New Year Honours

Congratulations to all the teachers, headteachers, support staff and governors who were awarded in the Queen’s New Years Honours for services to education, children and young people.

Natasha Pearson, a 26 year-old PE teacher from Doncaster, was awarded the British Empire Medal for services to education and for voluntary service to children with disabilities, the Hull Daily Mail reports. Natasha was responsible for a network of 500 volunteers when she was at university and also set up a successful project called Shine and Smile, to break down social barriers between special education and mainstream school children. “It is nice to be recognised down the line for something I have done,” she said, “”My boyfriend can’t wait to go to the garden party at Buckingham Palace.”

Over thirty headteachers were recognised in the Queen’s Honours list and two were made dames for turning round struggling schools, the BBC reports.

Joan McVittie transformed two schools in deprived areas of London – Leytonstone School and Woodside High in Tottenham. In just five years she took Woodside High, which was previously described as ‘the worst school in London’, from the verge of closure to an outstanding Ofsted rating. Dame Joan attributed her success to getting a good team: “It’s about playing to people’s strengths,” she said.

Sally Coates has worked in teaching since she was 22 and transformed Burlington Danes Academy on the deprived White City Estate in west London. When Dame Sally took over in 2008 the school was ‘pretty chaotic’ with poor pupil behaviour and poor results, but she turned the school round by having high expectations of her pupils: “The thing to remember is that everyone wants things to work. The teachers want to work in a good school, the parents want the school to be good and the children want to work in a good school,” she said.

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