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Last Updated: Saturday, 11 June, 2005, 05:02 GMT 06:02 UK
Queen's awards for education
By Angela Harrison
BBC News education reporter

Sir Pritpal Singh
"It's about giving youngsters hope," said Sir Pritpal Singh
Two head teachers who turned their schools around and a champion of higher education have received top awards in the Queen's birthday honours.

There were knighthoods for Professor Roderick Floud, the president of the London Metropolitan University and for London head teacher Pritpal Singh.

Sir Pritpal turned a low-achieving school into a top one. Prof Floud has worked to widen access to university.

Mo Brennan was made a Dame in the honours list for her achievements.

She turned around Hillcrest School and Community College in Dudley in England's West Midlands.

The school was in special measures when she took over five years ago. By 2003, Ofsted inspectors described it as "one of the most outstanding schools in the country".


Dame Mo (Maureen) Brennan says the turn-around was achieved through a "common sense approach".

"It's those common sense things, getting children to behave, getting good teachers in, having high expectations of children and making sure that whatever barriers stop them achieving are removed. "The behaviour of our children is outstanding, they stand up when you walk into the classroom and their uniform is beautiful."

Sir Pritpal arrived at Drayton Manor High School in Ealing, west London, 11 years ago.

Then, only about 30% of children got five good GCSEs. Now 65% do so. The school's intake is very mixed, with 43 languages spoken and children from very deprived backgrounds as well as professional homes.

I am delighted that someone from a new university which has a strong tradition of serving disadvantaged people should be given this honour
Sir Roderick Floud

He said he was amazed and delighted by the award. It was a credit to the school's staff, who had "worked their socks off".

Ofsted describes Drayton Manor as an "excellent school".

Sir Pritpal was named secondary headteacher of the year for London last year. He says the turn-around was based on creating a culture of achievement in the school, a clear, fair system of discipline and a caring ethos.

"When I came here, there was a feeling in the corridors of unease: the children were not at ease with each other or with the staff.

Dame Mo Brennan
Dame Mo Brennan advocates a common sense approach

"It is about having that culture where children believe they can achieve, giving youngsters hope and having a good behaviour system."

Sir Roderick Floud is a renowned historian, who has worked to promote part-time education and the cause of disadvantaged students.

He was also the head of Universities UK, the body which represents the vice-chancellors of Britain's universities.

He said: "I am delighted that someone from a new university which has a strong tradition of serving disadvantaged people should be given this honour.

"London Metropolitan has a mission to serve the disadvantaged people of London: 50% of our students are from ethnic minorities, 50% are women and 50% are mature students and this award is a tribute to all of this work by myself and my colleagues."

He is committed to the further expansion of higher education, saying the UK should aim even higher than the government's target to have 50% of 18-30 year olds in higher education.

"Many other countries - such as America, Ireland and Finland - already exceed that level," he said.


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