Damehood for MAT leader among New Year’s Honours

Education honours also include school leader who planned to block pupils under the age of 8 from wearing the hijab

2020 honours

The former head of a multi-academy trust for pupils with special educational needs has been made a dame in tonight's New Year’s Honours.

Dr Caroline Allen, who recently retired from Orchard Hill College & Academy Trust (OHC&AT) after 32 years, joins dozens of other headteachers, academy leaders and special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) experts who are honoured for their services to education.

OHC&AT runs 14 special schools for children with a wide range of learning difficulties across the south-east of England. 


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In March 2018, the trust was named as one of the sponsors for 14 new special free schools by former children and families minister Nadhim Zahawi

Ms Allen said: “I’m absolutely delighted to be receiving this honour. I have been privileged to work with very talented students with special needs and with highly skilled staff, senior leaders, board members and governors at Orchard Hill College & Academy Trust.

"It is a unique and remarkable organisation and I owe the achievement of this honour to the support and commitment of the people there.”

A school leader who found herself in the spotlight in a row over the hijab is also among those honoured for their work in education.

Neena Lall, headteacher of St Stephen's School and Children's Centre in Newham, east London, has been awarded an OBE.

The experienced head came to the public's attention in 2018 after it emerged her school – which is rated as "outstanding" by Ofsted – planned to block pupils aged under the age of 8 from wearing the hijab in the classroom; a decision later reversed in the wake of a backlash.

Esteemed artist Magdalene Odundo is also being made a dame for services to arts education.

Meanwhile, Edward Vainker, co-founder and executive principal at Reach Academy in Feltham, is appointed an OBE for services to education. 

Earlier this year, Mr Vainker joined a new independent commission to create a long-term vision for state education outside of party politics.

It was set up by Layla Moran, the Liberal Democrats' education spokesperson, who told the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) annual conference that she wanted to ensure that the teaching profession helped to shape future education policy.

Indra Morris, director-general of children's social care, social mobility and disadvantage at the Department for Education (DfE), is receiving a CBE for services to social mobility.

And Daisy Christodoulou is honoured with an MBE for services to education. Ms Christodoulou is the author of Seven Myths about Education and director of education at online resource No More Marking. She was formerly head of assessment at Ark Schools.

Among those honoured for their work supporting pupils with special educational needs are Dr David Hewett, co-founder of communication approach Intensive Interaction (OBE); Michael Lock, headteacher at Combe Pafford Special School in Devon (OBE); and author David Burns (MBE).

Other education figures honoured with an OBE include:

Andrew Halls, headmaster, King's College School, Wimbledon. For services to education.

Philippa Nunn, headteacher, Waldegrave School for Girls and chief executive officer of The Richmond West Schools Trust. For services to education. 

Fiona Rigby, headteacher, St Catherine's Catholic Primary School, Hallam. For services to education.

Juliet Wright, headteacher, Bankfoot Primary School, Bradford. For services to families and children.

Dr Katherine Chhatwal, chief executive, Challenge Partners and chair of education at STEP Academy Trust, London. For services to education.

Carol Dewhurst, chief executive officer, Bradford Diocesan Academies Trust. For services to education. (West Yorkshire)

Christopher Wheatley, chief executive officer, The Flying High Trust, Nottingham. For services to education.

John O'Neill, regional director, Witherslack Group. For services to children with special educational needs and disabilities.

Barry Payne, headteacher and founder, The Wherry School. For services to children with special education needs and disabilities.

Pauline Anderson, director of learning and skills, Derby City Council and chair of the trustees of the Traveller Movement. For services to children and young people in education.

Rosemary Black, formerly service director, education and early years, Cornwall Council. For services to education.

Yvonne Mason, founder and chair of trustees, The Mason Trust. For services to young people in Norfolk and Suffolk.

Dr William Mitchell. For services to computing and to artificial intelligence education.

Professor Sophie Gilliat-Ray. For services to education and to the Muslim community in the UK.

Graham Razey. chief executive officer, EKC Group and member, Principals' Reference Group. For services to education.

Education MBEs also include:

Tania Findlay, teacher, St Newlyn East Learning Academy. For services to education.

Susan Gahan, nursery principal, Zebedee Nursery School, South West London and volunteer, Steward's Trust. For services to education.

Joanne Kenny, assistant headteacher, Ashton on Mersey School, Greater Manchester. For services to education.

Sukwinder Kaur Samra, headteacher, Elmhurst School and director, Elmhurst TSA. For services to education.

Amy Leonard, founder, Transformation Trust. For services to young people and to education.

Susan Samson, chief executive officer, University of Chichester Multi-Academy Trust. For services to education.

Kathryn Farrington, special educational needs and disabilities coordinator, Drighlington Primary School, Leeds. For services to children and young people.

Claire Pashley, music teacher and chief examiner, Victoria College Examinations. For services to children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities.

Brian Smith, teacher and founder, R.E.A.L Education. For services to children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities.

Hugh Steele, formerly headteacher, The Dales Special School, Northumberland. For services to children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities.

Razia Butt, independent education adviser, Birmingham City Council. For services to education.

Dominic Boddington, founder, Respect4us and lately vice principal, Open Academy. For services to alternative wducation in Norfolk.

Jenifer Burden. For services to education.

Peter Colenutt, formerly chair, Education Building Development Officer's Group. For services to education.

Richard Kerslake. For services to education and to the arts in the London Borough of Sutton.

Jennifer Monk, head of education, Clayfield House. For services to vulnerable young people.

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