Highest honours go to headteachers who have triumphed in challenging situations. Karen Thornton reports.
THE delights of becoming a dame are eclipsed by the day-to-day rewards of contact with pupils, according to headteacher Rita Weller.
As head of Avonmore primary in the London borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, a challenging school where a fifth of pupils are refugees, she is glad of the recognition of her efforts over the past 13 years and those of her staff.
She said: "I received a Christmas card from one pupil, who left about four years ago, saying that she will never forget me. I'm really choked by that: when a child remembers their primary years, it is great."
John Jones, head of Maghull high school in Sefton, Liverpool, has been knighted in the New Year's honours. The curly-haired Scouser has already been to Downing Street to discuss school leadership with Prime Minister Tony Blair and worked with former US attorney general Janet Reno.
Mr Jones, who nearly became a priest, built his reputation as a headteacher at Ruffwood secondary in Knowsley. Under his leadership the school was ranked by inspectors as one of the nation's most improved.
Clive Booth, 59, the former vice-chancellor of Oxford Brookes University, is now also a sir. He steps down as chair of the Teacher Training Agency's board in September, after six years.
He said: "The thing that struck me in 1997 was that the teaching profession was in a period of marked gloom. Things are now much better."
TTA board member Professor Barbara MacGilchrist, deputy director of London University's Institute of Education, receivesan OBE for services to education and teachers' professional development.
The same honour goes to Professor Sonia Jackson, of the University of Wales, Swansea, who, in the 1980s, was the first person to highlight the underachievement of "looked after" children.
Peter Makeham is the most highly honoured of several Department for Education and Skills personnel. The director general of finance and analytical services becomes a Companion of the Order of the Bath.
Others honoured include Bournemouth's former education director Khvaja Shaikh, who was applauded by the Office for Standards in Education as a "courageous and charismatic leader" who brought a new "buzz" to the borough. He has been appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire.
Straight-talking Tom Wylie, chief executive of the National Youth Agency since 1996, recei-ves the OBE for services to young people. The former teacher from Ulster and HM inspector told The TES that Labour's wide-ranging plans for a new Connexions service of personal advisers consisted of only one new idea.
Tim Alban Jones, the vicar of St Andrew's church in Soham, and vice-chairman of governors at Holly Wells's and Jessica Chapman's primary school, gets an MBE.
* Other honours include: Anthony Buckeridge, 90, whose popular books about the schoolboy Jennings still influence the public perception of boarding schools (OBE); Victor Burgess, 58, former head of Elliott secondary school, Wandsworth, south London, which was recognised as one of only 10 with "outstanding" leadership in a DfES study (OBE); Professor John Ward, chairman of the Scottish Qualifications Authority, who is knighted for turning around the organisation after thousands of school-leavers were issued with the wrong exam results in 2000; and property developer David Garrard (knighted), sponsor of the Bexley business academy, south-east London.
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