Superhead leads the way in New Year honours

6th January 2012 at 00:00
Teachers, governors and lollipop people are recognised for their work

An inner-city head who took her primary from the brink of failure to "outstanding" has been named a dame in the New Year honours list. The accolade for Sylvia Morris (pictured), head of the Cathedral School of St Saviour and St Mary Overy in Southwark, London, is the highest awarded to a teacher this year.

Honours also went to 10 heads, five former heads, two deputies, six teachers (three serving, three former), nine governors, two lollipop people, a caretaker and a lab technician.

Dame Sylvia took over at the Cathedral School, which serves one of the poorest parts of London, in 1994, when it was at risk of being failed by Ofsted. Under her leadership, the primary, which has high numbers of pupils who speak English as an additional language and who qualify for free school meals, was given "beacon" status and was rated "outstanding" by inspectors.

Its last Ofsted report in 2008 praised the head's "forward-thinking and dedicated leadership" and quoted a parent, who said: "The head's very impressive influence runs through the school."

Dame Sylvia went straight from school to teacher training in 1970 and sees the job as her vocation. "I made my mind up at an early age," she once told TES. "I'd been told (at school) I wouldn't be good at anything. I didn't want that experience to happen to children."

Professor Mel Ainscow, the University of Manchester educationalist who led the Greater Manchester Challenge school improvement scheme, has been appointed CBE. The former teacher and special school head said he interpreted the honour as a recognition of the success of the scheme, which encouraged schools to collaborate. "I think what it has demonstrated is that there is enormous potential for the system to improve itself," he said. "It was about doing things differently in the midst of a very centralised, one-size-fits-all approach to school improvement."

He said ideas developed through the Challenge and its counterparts in London and the Black Country - such as teaching schools, using serving heads as system leaders and encouraging schools to work together - were being adopted worldwide.

Martyn Cribb, a City Challenge adviser for the Black Country, was appointed OBE for his work in the same field.

June Foster was given the same honour for her achievements as head of Moorside Community Primary School and the Arthur's Hill Federation in Newcastle upon Tyne. Last year, in response to the "outstanding" verdict Ofsted gave the multicultural school, where she has worked for more than 17 years, she said: "We put the needs of each child at the heart of what we do to give them the best start to their academic development."

In 2007, Ms Foster also became executive head at nearby Westgate Hill Primary, which later federated with Moorside, and brought it out of special measures.

In Wales, Lewis School Pengam head Chris Howard was appointed OBE. Dr Howard was president of heads' union the NAHT in 2009 when he warned that creative subjects were being squeezed out of the curriculum.

Rod Aldridge, academy sponsor and founder of public service contracts firm Capita, already appointed OBE, is to be knighted for services to young people.

Debbie Hepplewhite, a member of the Reading Reform Foundation and an advocate of synthetic phonics, was appointed MBE.

Tom Jeffery, acting permanent secretary at the Department for Education, said: "I congratulate all those who have received an award. Through their work, they are helping to raise educational standards across the country, ensuring that every young person fulfils their potential, whatever their background or circumstances."

Photo credit: Richard Lea-Hair



Sylvia Morris, head, the Cathedral School of St Saviour and St Mary Overy in Southwark, London.


Professor Mel Ainscow, University of Manchester.

Marion Davis, director, Children, Young People and Families Directorate, Warwickshire County Council.

Vanni Emanuele Treves, chair, National College for School Leadership.


Dr Ian Birnbaum, former strategic director, Children, Young People and Learning Services, London Borough of Sutton.

Barbara Challinger, head, Haslingden High School in Rossendale, Lancashire.

Martyn Cribb, City Challenge adviser for the Black Country.

Dr Paul Doherty, head, Trinity Catholic High School in Redbridge, London.

June Foster, head, Moorside Community Primary School and the Arthur's Hill Federation in Newcastle upon Tyne.

Christine Haddock, head, Larkspur Community Primary School in Gateshead.

Dr Chris Howard, head, Lewis School Pengam in Caerphilly.

William Mann, former head, St Hilary School in Penzance, Cornwall.

Lynn Slinger, head, Forest Way Special School in Coalville, Leicestershire.

Ronwen Smith, former head, Linden Bridge School in Surrey.

Janette Steel, head, Chelsea Community Hospital School in London.

June Taylor, chair, Independent Schools Inspectorate.

Steven Tuft, former head, the Pines School in Birmingham.

Original headline: A superhead leads the way in New Year honours list

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