Honour for the human touch

MBE for the chair of governors who knows every one of her pupils by name. Nicola Porter reports

She describes herself as a bit of a mother hen and will not hear a bad word said about the pupils at the special-needs school she has served for 25 years.

Pam Green, the 78-year-old chairman of governors at Ysgol Tir Morfa in Rhyl, Denbighshire, takes all the children there under her wing.

Her long-term loyalty to the school and the community of Rhyl was recognised with an MBE in the New Year Honours List. But the grandmother-of-five ensures her duties to the school she lives across the road from always comes first.

Mrs Green said: "It was murder keeping my secret from the children but it's such an honour. I love every one of them as if they were mine."

Steve Murphy, headteacher at Ysgol Tir Morfa, said Pam was a great ambassador for the school.

"I would say Mrs Green knows every one of the pupils by their names. She has been very supportive of us all and we are absolutely delighted for her."

The school caters for pupils aged from three to 19 with a range of special needs. Pam's service at the school started when she became a member of the governing body in 1981.

She follows the achievements of every pupil closely and hands out awards at their presentation evening every year.

She said: "I've been a councillor for 16 years and mayor twice, but nothing compares to the work I do for the school and the children.

"I watch the children grow up and do some wonderful things, and I have tears in my eyes when I hand them their records of achievement on presentation evening."

Elsewhere, Rhiannedd Pratley, former chief executive for Wales at the English-based Basic Skills Agency, was awarded an OBE for services to education in Wales. Now retired, 65-year-old Ms Pratley is known as an architect of the national basic skills strategy in Wales between 2001-4.

Colleague Alan Wells said education in Wales had been greatly enriched by her work.

Basic skills programmes - only available in Wales - have been hailed a success in helping children to get up to speed in maths and reading.

Initiatives such as the catch-up programme, a major part of Ms Pratley's work, are open to all Welsh schools through special grants from the Assembly government and the Basic Skills Agency.

Mr Wells, from the BSA, said: "Rhiannedd was a very able person with a charming disposition who, despite moving to Essex, spent most of her time in Welsh bed-and-breakfasts making huge strides in education."

A spokesperson for the Assembly government said: "The education and lifelong learning minister Jane Davidson congratulates everyone who has received honours this year, and will be writing to them accordingly.

"She would like to thank Rhiannedd Pratley for her work in highlighting basic skills in Wales. Ms Davidson looks forward to working with her successor."

Also honoured with an MBE for services to education was William H John, vice-chancellor of Cardiff university. Bill, as he is known to students and colleagues, started out as a history teacher at The Lewis School in Pengam.

He is a former lecturer at Cardiff college of education, attached to the south Glamorgan institute of higher education, where he was responsible for teacher-training in later years.

He is known for his contribution to the promotion of church schools, of which he is a staunch supporter, and is a pioneer of school governor training in Wales.

Mr John is chairman of the Llandaff Diocesan council for education and vice-chairman of governors at St Teilo's high school in Cardiff.

* nicola.porter@tes.co.uk

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