Look Who's Who now

As a 13-year-old schoolboy, Pritpal Singh used to leaf through the library copy of Who's Who, looking up the rich and famous.

Almost 40 years later, the head of Drayton Manor high is among 25 headteachers included for the first time. They join high-profile entrants such as comedians Frank Skinner and Kathy Burke, George Michael, the popstar, and Kevin Spacey, the Hollywood actor.

The 52-year-old west London head was offered a place after receiving a knighthood last year. It is an accolade he could not have imagined gaining when he first arrived in England from India as a boarding-school pupil.

"We had enormous admiration for British traditions," he said. "It was nice to know boys whose fathers were in Who's Who."

All new knights, dames and CBEs are invited to submit an entry, as are heads of famous institutions. At least 350 heads, past and present, are included in the annual, 2,200-page volume, published this week, but only five are primary heads.

Among them is Mary MacDonald, head of Riverside primary, in North Shields, who became a dame last year. "You have a wee private moment of pride in yourself," she said. "But I doubt anyone reads it from cover to cover."

Heads who publish large numbers of papers, or sit on government committees are also considered by the panel of editors, as are those who run renowned institutions. Editors also examine school performance over a number of years, to ensure that consistent improvement is rewarded. Joan Olivier, who retires this summer as head of Lady Margaret secondary, in west London, appears for the first time this year, after 23 years in the job.

Entries follow a rigid format. But space for creativity comes at the end, when entrants are able to list their interests. Ms Olivier's include playing bad bridge "I'm being modest," she said. "I'm actually terrible."

Sir Pritpal listed his as history and rugby. "I didn't want to be flippant," he said. "There might be students reading it, like I did, and hoping to become a head one day."

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