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Huge leap in results makes Sir a Sir

A head who presided over a dramatic leap in exam grades at a Birmingham secondary was awarded a knighthood in this week's New Year honours list.

Dexter Hutt, of Ninestiles comprehensive, topped an impressive list of 19 honoured heads, alongside seven teachers, four assistants, four chairs of governors, two lollipop ladies and two janitors.

Mr Hutt's 15-year tenure at the school has seen an astonishing 80-point climb in the percentage of pupils getting five Cs or better at GCSE. He paid tribute to his staff, but added that a school's ultimate success depended on its head. "I don't think you get good schools without good heads."

Sir Cyril Taylor, chairman of the Specialist Schools Trust, received what Downing Street has described as a "super knighthood" - a Knights Grand Cross - recognising the phenomenal success of the specialist schools movement.

In further education, there was a knighthood for Bernard O'Connell, principal of Runshaw college, Lancashire. David Gibson, former chief executive of the Association of Colleges, got a CBE.

There was recognition, too, of the work of head Hugh Howe in turning round Fir Vale school, a Fresh Start comprehensive in Sheffield. He received a CBE.

William Jordon, head of the inner-city Dyke House school in Hartlepool, received a CBE. He said: "All children need to be educated, not just the top 50 per cent."

Writer Philip Pullman, awarded a CBE despite criticising testing in schools, said: "This shows that my criticism has had absolutely no effect.

They haven't listened. These people never do. But it's an award for services to literature, not services to stirring up." Cartoonist Ronald Searle, 83, creator of the St Trinian's girls' school, received a CBE.

News 10, FE Honours 29

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