Honours focus on education

2nd January 1998 at 00:00
The gathering campaign to jazz up the battered old image of the teaching profession has produced three knighthoods for heads and a New Year honours list which, according to Prime Minister Tony Blair, has education as its focus.

The Government has already used cinema advertisements and soap-opera plugs in its attempt to "change the culture" of British education.

Now it has produced an honours list rewarding 58 education professionals, from school caretakers to university vice-chancellors.

"There are few more important jobs than teaching," said Mr Blair this week. "It is for many a vocation. We are rightly determined to ensure that there is no place for poor teaching."

"But the vast majority of teachers do an excellent job and in making education the focus of the honours list we're not only honouring the best of the profession, but the profession itself."

The knighthoods for heads, known as "sirs for sirs", and the female equivalents (Dame Commanders of the British Empire) are a notable innovation. Two figures from the university world have also received the same treatment.

Among the new Dames is Tamsyn Imison (pictured above), who has been headteacher of the 1,300- pupil Hampstead School since 1984.

While Hampstead is a byword for affluence, the school itself serves Cricklewood, a socially-mixed area further to the north of London.

"I was quite bowled over," she said this week. "I regard it as a great accolade for comprehensive schools. It proves that large, mixed comprehensives can work."

Full details of the New Year honours list will be published in next week's TES.

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