Seven headteachers have been appointed either dames or knights in this week's New Year Honours.
Dame Sally Coates (pictured below), principal of Burlington Danes Academy in Hammersmith, was appointed for making a "consistent contribution to improving educational outcomes for children in some of the most deprived areas of London".
The head led Sacred Heart Catholic School in Camberwell to an "outstanding" Ofsted rating before moving to her current school, part of the Ark academy chain, in 2008.
Ofsted had said achievement at Burlington Danes was "inadequate". But within a year of Dame Sally's arrival the inspectorate found the school was "good" in a report containing glowing praise for her "outstanding" leadership. She has since gone on to take part in government reviews of teacher standards and key stage 2 testing.
"I am really pleased and quite shocked," she said. "I would like to pay tribute to the staff at Sacred Heart and Burlington Danes and Ark, for their support. People are saying: 'How will this change your life?' I don't know but I want to get on with being a headteacher, running a school and just being me."
Dame Joan McVittie was honoured for taking Woodside High School in North London from the brink of closure to an "outstanding" Ofsted rating in five years. Last year's Association of School and College Leaders president, she said she was "absolutely thrilled" and attributed her success to building a good team.
Christopher Stone was knighted for his work as executive head of the Arthur Terry Learning Partnership, a cluster of two secondaries and four primaries in Birmingham.
"This award recognises the outstanding contribution made by so many wonderful colleagues, past and present," Sir Christopher said. "Awards like these are not about the individual."
The success of the Brit School for Performing Arts and Technology, Croydon, in achieving a "unique juxtaposition of high academic standards with strong vocational training" and delivering "world-class graduates" was recognised with a knighthood for former principal Sir Nicholas Williams.
Also knighted was Sir George Berwick for his work as executive principal of Ravens Wood School in Bromley - judged "outstanding" in its past four Ofsted reports - and for supporting 30 other schools through the London Challenge scheme and helping to create the Teaching Schools model.
Vicki Paterson was appointed dame for her achievements as executive head of the Brindishe Schools, a federation of three primaries in Lewisham, South London. And Dame Helen Hyde was honoured after serving as head of Watford Grammar School for Girls for a quarter of century. She is also president of Freedom and Autonomy for Schools - National Association and fellow in Holocaust studies at the Imperial War Museum.
The dames and knights were among 31 heads in the New Year Honours list, with educators making up around 10 per cent of the total. Other recipients included Brett Wigdortz, appointed OBE for his work as chief executive of the Teach First training scheme. He said the honour was "unexpected" and revealed that his wife had feared the worst when an "On Her Majesty's Service" envelope arrived at their home. "She thought I might have been having some criminal problems," he said.
The US-born 39-year-old said the OBE was recognition of everything Teach First had achieved - "a real honour for the thousands of teachers who have got through the programme".
New Year Honours
The following heads were appointed knights and dames:
Sir George Berwick, headteacher, Ravens Wood School, Bromley.
Dame Sally Coates, principal, Burlington Danes Academy, Hammersmith, West London.
Dame Helen Hyde, headmistress, Watford Grammar School for Girls.
Dame Joan McVittie, headteacher, Woodside High School, Haringey, North London.
Dame Vicki Paterson, executive headteacher, Brindishe Schools, Lewisham, South London.
Sir Christopher Stone, executive headteacher, the Arthur Terry Learning Partnership, Birmingham.
Sir Nicholas Williams, former principal of the Brit School, Croydon.