Gold stars all round for teachers on honours list

And academy high-flyers are rewarded with knighthoods

Kerra Maddern

"I feel as if I'm in an episode of Doctor Who, living in a parallel universe. It will take a while to sink in," said newly knighted former headteacher Sir Robin Bosher (pictured left).

The school leader, well respected for helping to bring about improvements in London's primary sector, has been rewarded for his achievements during his 34-year teaching career.

He was one of 17 heads - and seven teachers - recognised in the Queen's Birthday Honours list last weekend.

Sir Robin was operational director of the City Challenge Primary Programme in London, a government initiative designed to raise educational standards in the capital that ran from 2008 to 2011. He was also executive headteacher of three primary schools in Lewisham, South London (Fairlawn, Haseltine and Kilmorie), and is a member of the Department for Education's primary headteacher reference group.

He has already done "a lot of celebrating" with his wife Anna, a headteacher in Bromley, his two daughters and his two young grandsons.

Sir Robin, 55, was a headteacher for 24 years, becoming a school leader aged just 31 at Clare House Primary in Bromley. The "working-class boy" grew up in Oxfordshire and attended comprehensive schools before training to be a teacher at nearby Culham College.

He started work as director of primary education at the Harris Federation in April. The role involves supporting the federation's new group of primary schools, which, controversially, may include Downhills Primary in Haringey, where staff are fighting plans for it to become a sponsored academy.

"I genuinely feel no London child should go to a school that isn't at least 'good' and I thought this post would give me scope to try to deliver that vision," Sir Robin said.

Harris Federation chief executive Dr Sir Daniel Moynihan also received a knighthood, which perhaps reflects the high esteem in which the academy chain is currently held by ministers.

Dr Irene Bishop, headteacher of St Saviour's and St Olave's School in Southwark, South London, was appointed CBE. The honour follows 18 years of constant improvement at the inner-city school. When Dr Bishop took over in 1994, just 16 per cent of pupils received five good GCSE grades. Last summer, 73 per cent achieved five A*-Cs including English and maths.

In 2010, she also became executive head of St Michael and All Angels Church of England Academy in Camberwell, South London, the secondary castigated by teacher Katharine Birbalsingh at the Conservative Party conference that year.

Dr Bishop is not certain, but she believes she was nominated for the honour by members of the St Saviour's and St Olave's school community. "It's such an honour. I do feel humbled and a little bit overwhelmed by people's reactions. I've had so many fantastic messages of congratulations," she said.

Staff have made Dr Bishop a celebratory banner, and applauded her at their Monday morning meeting.

Dr Bishop, 63, who is married to Chris and has two sons, was entitled to free school meals when she grew up in Greenwich and Lewisham in South London. She attended a grammar school and trained to be a teacher at the University of Leeds. She will retire from St Saviour's and St Olave's in Easter 2013, but will continue working at St Michael and All Angels.

"I really don't want to go - I love my job and the school so much. I skip to school every day, metaphorically. It's the best job in the world," she said.

Marion Gibbs, co-director of the Southwark Schools' Learning Partnership, was also appointed CBE.

Ms Gibbs, headteacher of the independent James Allen's Girls' School in Dulwich, South London, has taught in prisons, universities, state and private schools, and was the first member of her family to go to university. She is passionate about providing facilities for the community at James Allen's. "My deputy head led the school in giving me three cheers during assembly and then everyone kept on clapping. I cried," she said.


Currently serving heads who have been appointed OBE:

Kay Bedford, headteacher, Swiss Cottage Specialist SEN School, North London.

John Alexander Graham, principal, Belfast Model School for Girls.

Kamal Hanif, headteacher, Waverley School, Birmingham.

Anna Domenica Kennedy, co-founder, Hillingdon Manor School.

Dina Martin, headteacher, Firs Hill Community Primary School, Sheffield.

Manjit Rai, headteacher, North Beckton Primary School, Newham, East London.

Lesley Steele, headteacher, St Aidan's Church of England Primary School, Gateshead.

For the full honours list, visit bit.lyK8MnUD.

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Kerra Maddern

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