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Dame Mo chooses her hat

The head of a former special measures school is among the figures from the education world who have dates with the Queen. Helen Ward and Stephen Lucas report

Mo Brennan, head of Hillcrest community college, Dudley, has been awarded a damehood and Pritpal Singh, head of Drayton Manor school, west London, has been knighted in the Queen's Birthday Honours list.

Janice Shiner, director general of lifelong learning at the Department for Education and Skills has also been made a Companion of the Order of the Bath.

Michael Barber, head of the Prime Minister's delivery unit and former head of the standards and effectiveness unit at the Department for Education and Skills, has been knighted (see below).

Fifteen headteachers, five deputy or assistant heads, seven teachers, six governors, 12 support staff and one teaching assistant were among those honoured from the education field. Civil servants, local authority staff and charity workers were also recognised.

Pupils at Hillcrest community college, Dudley, were flummoxed as they filed into school this week past their head Mo Brennan.

"I stood at the bottom of stairs as the children went past." said Dame Mo.

"But they didn't know what to say. The kitchen staff had a hat competition to see which hat I should wear to the palace."

Dame Mo, 51, received a congratulatory phone call from chief inspector David Bell, who called the school outstanding in his 2003 annual report.

Dame Mo took over when the school was in special measures. Since then the proportion of pupils getting five good GCSEs has risen from 17 per cent to 43 per cent and there is a waiting list to get in.

Dame Mo said: "The honour is for everybody, I've heard people say that before, but it really is."

Sir Pritpal, 51, said: "I was overwhelmed. One colleague asked if laying red carpets in the school was now a priority in the development plan."

He began his career as a chemistry teacher at Feltham school, Middlesex, in 1979. Now he helps oversee the 30 consultant heads working with heads in some of the capital's most difficult schools as part of the Government's London Challenge initiative.

Others honoured include Christine Davies, director of education and culture in Telford and Wrekin, who worked closely with the Government on the Children Act. She is now a CBE. She said: "I quite sincerely regard this as a real honour. It came completely out of the blue."

Bernadette Duffy, head of the Thomas Coram early childhood centre in Camden, and an early- years expert who has worked on the foundation-stage curriculum and the Government's Birth to three matters guidance, has been made an OBE.

Full list of honours

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