Running a school is as difficult as managing a business or industry, and should be recognised equally, according to headteacher Dexter Hutt, who was awarded a knighthood in the New Year honours list this week.
When the 55-year-old took over as head of Ninestiles comprehensive, in Birmingham, in 1988, only 8 per cent of pupils achieved five A* to C grades at GCSE. This year, 88 per cent received the same grades, and inspectors awarded teachers unprecedented high marks.
Mr Hutt said: "I work with a lot of talented teachers. But the role of the head is an essential precondition. In any organisation, people can only work within the climate that is set. That's what leadership and management are about. I don't think you get good schools without good heads."
Mr Hutt was not the only honours recipient to call for greater recognition for work in education. Sir Cyril Taylor, chairman of the Specialist Schools Trust, was knighted in 1989.
But this year he was awarded a GBE, described by Downing Street as a "super knighthood", in acknowledgement of more recent work. Only one or two people receive this award every year.
He said: "We don't always celebrate successes in schools in this country.
But a bit of congratulations goes a long way."
Hugh Howe was awarded a CBE in honour of his achievements at Fir Vale comprehensive, Sheffield, which replaced the failing Earl Marshall secondary in 1998. That year, 8 per cent of pupils achieved five GCSEs at grade C or better. In 2003, the figure was 34 per cent, and pupil numbers have doubled.
William Jordon was similarly rewarded for 10 years' work with inner-city pupils at Dyke House comprehensive, Hartlepool. He said: "All children need to be educated, not just the top 50 per cent."
Other honours were awarded for past achievements. Dr Rona Tutt, incoming president of the National Association of Head Teachers, received an OBE for her work with special-needs pupils during two decades at Woolgrove special school, in Hertfordshire. While head of the school, she completed a PhD in autism.
Professor Eileen Baker was presented with an OBE for work as a board member of the Teacher Training Agency, and as principal of Bishop Grosseteste college, in Lincoln. She retired last summer.
And Charles Desforges, emeritus professor of education at the University of Exeter, received an OBE in recognition of his directorship of the Economic and Social Research Council's teaching and learning programme. This is Britian's biggest education research programme, with a budget of pound;26 million. Greatly respected within the research community, Professor Desforges is also renowned for his gentle self-effacing humour: he sometimes jokes that his main claim to fame is that he was Ted Wragg's boss.
An OBE was also awarded to Celia Hoyles, professor of mathematics education at the Unversity of London's Institute of Education, and former chair of the Joint Mathematical Council.
A number of ancillary workers were similarly recognised. Charlie Cruse received an MBE for his work as a handyman at John of Gaunt comprehensive, in Wiltshire. Initially intending to help for two weeks, he stayed at the school for 20 years. Reflecting on his honour, he said: "All schools should have a Charlie."
FE Honours 29