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Top heads and educators become knights and dames in New Year's honours list

Headteachers and educationalists have received top awards in the Queen’s New Year’s honours list.

Mike Griffiths (pictured), former president of the Association of School and College Leaders and headmaster of the high-performing Northampton School for Boys, was knighted for his services to education. His school was the first outstanding “converter” academy to be approved in 2010.

Sir Mike said he was delighted to receive the honour but that it left him with “the nagging feeling of being a fraud”, as he put his school’s success down to the hard work of his staff.

“It’s a great honour personally,” he said, “but I’m just a figurehead of everything else that’s going on in the background.”

He said he could think of only a few people who would use his title, but even then “with their tongues firmly in their cheeks”.

Others to be awarded knighthoods include Craig Tunstall, executive headteacher of the Gipsy Hill Federation of schools in South London, and academy sponsor and philanthropist Roger De Haan.

Several leading women in education were made dames this year, including Rachel de Souza, a former headteacher, free school founder and now chief executive of the Inspiration Trust group of schools in Norfolk.

Kathy August, the head credited with the success of Manchester Academy, received the same honour, along with Alison Peacock, headteacher of Wroxham Primary School in Hertfordshire.

In further education, Asha Khemka, principal and chief executive of West Nottinghamshire College, also became a dame as did Professor Celia Hoyles, former director of the National Centre for Excellence in Teaching Mathematics.

A host of other people working in education received CBEs, OBEs and MBEs for their work.

Sir Mike said that he believed this was because the government wanted to paint a more positive picture of education.

“One of the things that Michael Gove has said for a while is that he wants to put positive stories about education in the media, it’s that feel-good factor in education that doesn’t make it into the media generally.

"It’s a way of redressing the balance to recognise that there’s a great job being done in the majority of schools across the country.”

He added that his own knighthood was “unlikely to change his life” and was really deserved by his staff who went “beyond the call of duty” to implement his school’s strong extra-curricular programme.

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