Leadership - English principals hit the heights

Five receive top accolade in Queen's Birthday Honours list

Being visited by inspectors is one of the most stressful parts of the job for any school leader, but if one inspection is gruelling, how about four in the space of two weeks?

That is what happened to David Carter, executive principal of the Cabot Learning Federation of schools, based in Bristol in the South West of England. Three of his 10 schools were visited by England's school inspectorate Ofsted on the same day last week.

Fortunately, there was some good news. As well as coming through the inspections unscathed, Mr Carter became Sir David, having been appointed to a knighthood in the Queen's Birthday Honours list, published last Friday.

"I had a letter from the Cabinet Office about the knighthood and I've been bursting with this secret," Sir David said. "My family is delighted. It's wonderful to get this after teaching for 30 years."

About 10 per cent of the honours announced last week are for work in education. Other knighthoods went to Greg Martin, executive headteacher of the Durand Academy in South London, and Kenneth Gibson, executive headteacher of Harton Technology College and Academy 360 in northeast England.

Sue Bourne, headteacher of The Avenue School in Reading, and Dana Ross-Wawrzynski, executive headteacher of Altrincham Grammar School for Girls in Manchester and chief executive of the Bright Futures Educational Trust, were appointed dames. All the principals will be invited to Buckingham Palace in London to receive their awards later this year.

Sir David said it was simply a coincidence that his schools were inspected in such close proximity to each other. "I managed to get between all three schools and spend a lot of time with inspectors," he said. "I don't think each lead inspector knew about the inspections happening at the same time until I told them."

The official verdicts have not yet been published but Sir David is confident that the news will be positive. Until then, he can reflect on one of the most dramatic weeks of his professional life. "Good things are happening in Bristol and lots of people will be delighted that the federation has been recognised in this way through my knighthood," he said.

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