There's nothing like a dame: last year a record number of heads became knights; this year it's the women's turn.
Jean Else, head of Whalley Range high school, in Manchester and Sharon Hollows, head of Calverton primary in Newham, east London, became dames. in the New Year's honours. They are joined by Mary Richardson, the former principal of Convent of Jesus and Mary Language College, Brent, north London, a 1,000-pupil beacon school. Janet Trotter, director of Cheltenham and Gloucester College of Higher Education, was also awarded with a damehood.
More than 100 of the 970 honours in this year's list went to the education sector, an apparent affirmation of Tony Blair's commitment to reward those at the chalkface.
Miss Else is credited with turning round the inner-city girls' school whose standards in 1994 had plummeted from its heyday as a top grammar in the 1960s when it was attended by Estelle Morris, the current school standards minister.
Now 35 per cent of pupils get five good GCSEs compared with 16 per cent four years ago; attendance has improved to 95 per cent; and the roll has risen from 766 to 1,500.
"It's all a bit surreal," said the new Dame. "I've had a lot of support from colleagues and governors - peer praise is important.
"I think I was rewarded for turning the school round and making it unique - my energies have been in this for the last six years; I've lived, eaten and breathed it."
Miss Else was one of 10 heads appointed in April 1999 to advise Ms Morris on regenerating urban schools and was shortlisted for a "contribution to school leadership" award in the annual "Platos".
Sharon Hollows was also rewarded for raising standards. Her multi-racial school had the most improved national test results between 1996 and 1999.
Miss Hollows, who is a member of the Government's standards task force, said: "I'm delighted; but it's important that the efforts of the rest of the team are recognised as well. In order to find the solutions, I just had to listen to the staff.
"When the school changed, I didn't get rid of any teachers as the majority knew what they wanted to do - it was a case of giving them the opportunity."
The single mother hopes to take her two children, aged seven and 14, with her to the investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace.
Patricia Cross, head of St John's CE primary in Huddersfield, was awarded a CBE for raising standards at key stages 1 and 2.
She said: "We've all got behind the new initiatives and our results have improved. We're an Investors in People school so training has included all the staff.
"I'm pleased there has been a return to acknowleging the skill of the teacher which lies in the control of the class and enthusiasm for the subject. We are all keen on target-setting - the children and parents are aware of them too."
Ms Cross was given the same award as Professor David Melville, chief executive of the Further Education Funding Council, and Nick Tate, former chief executive of the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, now head of Winchester school.
Eleven heads gained OBEs, including two nursery and one secondary. Three primary heads, one nursery, a deputy head and four teachers were among the 50-plus who were awarded an MBE.
Baroness Blackstone, education minister in the House of Lords, has been elevated to the Privy Council. The Dome was not fogotten: Maggie Semple, director of the Learning Experience was given an OBE for her services arts education.
But there was nothing for former chief inspector Chris Woodhead, despite rumours that he had been offered a peerage by Tory leader William Hague.
FE honours, 19
Baroness Blackstone, minister of state, Department for Education and Employment.
Professor Christopher Frayling, rector and vice-provost, Royal College of Art.
Jean Else, head, Whalley Range high school, Manchester.
Sharon Hollows, head, Calverton primary school, Newham, east London.
Mary Richardson, lately principal, Convent of Jesus and Mary Language College, Brent, north London.
Janet Trotter, director, Cheltenham and Gloucester College of Higher Education.
Elizabeth Brooks, lately executive director, Dyslexia Institute.
Ian Graham-Bryce, lately principal and vice-chancellor, University of Dundee.
Patricia Cross, head, St John's CE primary school, Huddersfield, West Yorkshire.
Professor Patrick Dowling, vice-chancellor, University of Surrey.
Rosemary Hamilton, services to higher education, Belfast.
Jacqueline Henderson, chief executive, National Council, Training and Enterprise Council, Ashington, Northumberland.
Geoffrey Loades, chair, Norfolk and Waveney Training and Enterprise Council.
Michael Lowe, president, Shropshire Chamber of Commerce, Training and Enterprise.
Professor David Melville, chief executive, Further Education Funding council.
John Rourke, principal, St Charles Catholic Sixth Form College, Kensington and Chelsea, London.
David Ivor Sutherland, registrar, General Teaching Council for Scotland.
Nicholas Tate, lately chief executive, Qualifications and Curriculum Authority.
Hazel Abbott, lately head, St Cuthbert with St Matthias CE primary school, Kensington and Chelsea, London.
Eileen Anderson, head, Carreghofa primary school, Powys.
Rowena Arshad, director, Centre for Education for Racial Equality in Scotland.
Maureen Bampton, head, Erddig nursery school, Wrexham, North Wales.
David Hywel Bennett, lately principal, Sackville Community College, East Grinstead, West Sussex.
Stephen Best, for services to industry, enterprise, education and training in Gwent.
Dorothy Birchall, for services to the League for the Exchange of Commonwealth Teachers.
Professor Barry Carpenter, principalchief executive, Sunfield Independent special school, Stourbridge, Worcestershire.
Reginald Chapman, principal,Blackpool and the Fylde College, Lancashire.
Marilyn Cooke, HM inspector of schools, Office for Standards in Education.
Angus Dunphy, head, Fitzalan high school, Cardiff.
Geofrey Edmondson, for services to schools' sport, Exmouth, Devon.
Ann Elliott, head, Horton Grange county first school, Blyth, Northumberland.
Alan Garner for services to children's literature.
Peter Griffin for services to school governors in Cardiff.
David John for services to education, St Brides Major, The Vale of Glamorgan.
Gail Johnson, family centre co-ordinator, Widden primary school, Gloucester.
Veronica McLaughlin, head, Leith Walk primary school, Edinburgh.
Raymond Mullan, director, Newry and Kilkeel Institute of Higher Education, Warrenpoint, Down, Northern Ireland.
Sister Helen O'Dwyer, head, St Rose high school, Belfast.
Patricia Pearce, lately director, careers service, University of Westminster.
Christopher Potter, head, Old Swinford Hospital School, Stourbridge, Worcestershire.
Jane Rapley, dean, fashion and textiles, Central St Martin's College of Art and Design, London Institute.
Michael Rea, for services to education, Bangor, Down, Northern Ireland.
Margaret Semple, for services to the learning experience at the Millennium Dome and arts education.
Muriel Singleton, for services to pharmacy education and training, Belfast.
James Skinner, chairman, Glasgow Community College Group.
John Thomas, head, Wootton Bassett county secondary school, Wiltshire.
David Thompson, head, Regent House grammar school, Bangor, Down, Northern Ireland.
Sheila Thorpe, head, Hillfields early excellence centre, Coventry.
Mary Tigchelaar, principal, Forthill College, Lisburn, Antrim.
Professor David Westbury, vice- principal, University of Birmingham.
Audrey Westhead, head, Chesnut Lodge special school, Widnes, Cheshire.
MEMBERS OF THE ORDER OF THE BRITISH EMPIRE
Janet Anderson, principal, Link into Learning, Cornwall.
Jane Arden, governor, Burlington Danes CE school, Hammersmith and Fulham, London.
John Bates, caretaker, High Beeches school, Harpenden,Hertfordshire.
Elizabeth Black, for services to vocational education and the community, Portstewart, Londonderry, Northern Ireland.
Vera Bolter, for services to the community, especially health education, Newcastle upon Tyne.
Joan Bond, registry administrator, University of Wolverhampton.
Donald Brown, lay member, HM inspectorate of schools, Cults, Aberdeen.
John Bullock, administrative officer, school development team, Cheshire local education authority.
Paul Burrows, for services to education, Craigavon, Armagh.
Morva Calvert, principal, Ballyoran primary school, Bleary, Armagh.
Glenys Carter, director, National Association of Toy and Leisure Libraries, Barnet, Herfordshire.
Madeleine Carter, childminder, Haringey, north London.
Peter Chamberlain, lately governor, Goldington Green lower school, Bedfordshire.
Martin Crossley Evans, warden, Manor Hall, University of Bristol.
Helen Culling, diary secretary to the chief executive, Teacher Training Agency, Department for Education and Employment.
Andrew Davidson, lecturer, Barony College, Dumfries.
Eileen Farrar, manager, Threshers day nursery, St Mary Cray, Orpington, Kent.
Reginald French, chair, Herefordshire Group Training Association.
Margaret Gardner, administrative assistant, University of Lancaster.
Frederick Gilbert, general service team leader, London School of Economics.
Hayden Ginns, project development manager, Portsmouth education authority, services to disaffected young people.
Kenneth Handley, vice-chair, Bishop Auckland College Corporation,County Durham.
Margaret Hewitt, services to the World Organisation for Early Childhood Education, Derbyshire.
Eleri Hourahane, head, Ysgol Sant Curig, Barry, Vale of Glamorgan.
Evan Hughes, chair of governors, Brynhafren county primary school, Welshpool, Powys.
Basil Hutton, principal, Holy Trinity boys primary school, Belfast.
John Ireland, governor, St. Andrew the Apostle Catholic primary school and All Saints Catholic high school, Knowsley, Liverpool.
Judith Kent, teacher, Abbey junior school, Darlington, County Durham.
Helen Kininmonth, placement officer, University of Paisley.
Veronica Laird, director, St Helen's Chamber of Commerce Training and Enterprise.
Patricia Leiper, school administrator, St Modan's high school, Alva, Clackmannan.
Eileen Mander, head of physical education, Sidmouth Community College, Devon.
Dorothy Maskell, team manager, CareerLink, Lancashire.
Elizabeth McComiskey, school crossing patrol officer, Romiley primary school, Stockport, Greater Manchester.
Anthony Moore, lately deputy head, Bryncelynnog, Beddau, Caerphilly.
Barbara O'Rourke, head, Monnow infants school, Newport, Monmouthshire.
Rajesh Patel, services to the Black Training and Enterprise Group.
Anne Pearson, head, Park primary school, Alloa, Clackmannan.
Christine Pleace, services to Bryn Celyn primary school, Cardiff.
Anne Pollington, deputy head, Paddock Wood primary school, Kent.
Robert Purdy, teacher of art, design, graphics and photography, Regent College, Leicester.
Yvonne Reaney, music teacher, Lydgate infant school, Sheffield.
Eileen Ruglys, services to Oakley day centre and to Cranbourne school, Basingstoke, Hampshire.
Sandra Rutter, cookcatering supervisor, Brierton comprehensive school, Hartlepool.
Jean Sandilands, services to pupil welfare at Saltoun primary school, East Lothian.
Diana Sperry, information and communications technology co-ordinator, Moat Farm junior school, Oldbury, Sandwell.
Josephine Taylor, team manager, Surrey schools' athletics and swimming teams.
Elleston Wedderburn, lately governor, College of North East London.
William Wyllie, governor, services to Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen.