Wisdom from the ice cream parlour

Anna Hassan, the UK's newest education dame, believes that educating children is like selling them ice cream. The 59-year-old head of Millfields community primary, in east London, was among the heads, teachers and education workers recognised in the New Year honours list this year.

Mrs Hassan, whose Italian immigrant family runs an ice-cream shop, was the only head to be knighted. She says that her background taught her valuable lessons in school management.

"My real business is ice cream," she said. "When you're selling ice-cream, you learn that it's the customers who are important. In education, children are the customers. It's about asking people what their needs are, and meeting them."

She thinks of parents as important customers and to help them, Millfields opens from 6.30am to 8.30pm, providing one of the models for the Government's extended-schools proposals.

"I'm just doing my job," said Dame Anna. "I keep thinking they've honoured the wrong person. I feel like a fraud."

David Hart, retired general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, was knighted. He was among the 79 honoured in education this year. David Sherlock, chief inspector of the Adult Learning Inspectorate and TES columnist, received a CBE, as did four heads and one technology college chief executive.

OBEs were awarded to four retired and four serving heads, and MBEs went to two heads and 12 teachers.

News 18

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