High honours for heads

A headteacher at the centre of a row over Muslim dress and Britain's first deaf headteacher are among those named in the New Year's honours list.

Yasmin Bevan, from Denbigh high school in Luton, has been made a dame for services to education, after receiving high praise for her leadership from inspectors.

Last year the multi-ethnic comprehensive won a House of Lords ruling backing its decision to ban pupil Shabina Begum from wearing a full-body jilbab in class, as it already had a uniform deemed appropriate for Muslim girls.

Mrs Bevan, 52, said she was "absolutely amazed" to be honoured, putting the success down to an excellent governing body and chemistry between the school, the community and her own values.

Mabel Davis, the first deaf person to be appointed to a headship in Britain, was made a CBE. She has spent 15 years running Heathlands school for the deaf in St Albans, Hertfordshire.

John d'Abbro, 50, was made an OBE for his work as leader of the New Rush Hall group of special schools in Redbridge, which cater for pupils with emotional and behavioural difficulties.

Mr d'Abbro suffered behaviour problems himself when he was growing up and was permanently excluded at 15, unable to read properly. "I started at school where I got remedial English lessons three times a week for two years and I ended up as the head boy," he said. "That was because someone saw potential in me. I was a headteacher by the age of 29."

Also honoured was Keith Ajegbo, former head of Deptford Green school in London, who gains a knighthood. Sir Keith is now carrying out a review for the Government into the teaching of British cultural and social history.

Headteachers were not the only people in education on the list. Lollypop lady Evelyn Mary Gittens, who worked for Halton borough council in Cheshire, was made an MBE, as was Mary Elizabeth Jackson, a supply teacher at Shanklin primary, Isle of Wight.

Mrs Jackson, 82, who has spent 60 years in classrooms, said: "The only time I've been tempted to leave was when I was offered a part in the chorus line of an ice show, but they said I'd never get back into teaching. I'm glad I didn't leave."

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