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Last Updated: Friday, 11 June, 2004, 23:03 GMT 00:03 UK
Teachers win top honours
Edith Bibby, head teacher
Edith Bibby paid tribute to her 'wonderful' staff
A head teacher who turned a failing school into an exam success has won a top honour for services to education.

Enid Bibby, of Wood Green High School College of Sport, in Wednesbury, West Midlands, becomes a dame in the Queen's birthday list.

The school has more than doubled its GCSE pass rate since 1998.

Two more heads - John Lewis, of Dixons City Technology College, Bradford, and Alan Steer, of Seven Kings High School, London - get knighthoods.

'Great progress'

When Mrs Bibby took over at Wood Green six years ago, the proportion of students getting the equivalent of five grades A* to C at GCSE was 31%.

By last year the figure had risen to 63%, above the English average of 52.9%.

Mrs Bibby, 53, told BBC News Online: "I'm overwhelmed by this honour. It was a complete shock when the government envelope arrived. I thought it might be a tax demand until I opened it.

"We are delighted with the progress we have made at the school.

"This award is a tribute to my wonderful staff. I am just the captain of a superb ship."

Mrs Bibby moved to Wednesbury from Sheffield in 1998 to get married to Bob Bibby, himself an education consultant.

'Not Dame Edna, please'

She started work at Wood Green, which has 1,500 pupils, just after it became a specialist sports school, ensuring extra government funding.

Mrs Bibby, who has worked in education since 1971, said: "The whole ethos of the place has changed. We've modernised the school and the curriculum."

Wood Green is in a deprived area, with 38% of its pupils qualifying for free school meals and a quarter registered as having special educational needs.

Mrs Bibby said: "Everyone has done very well. It is nice that the community recommended me for this honour.

Alan Steer
The idea of someone making a fuss of me for doing something I love is strange
Alan Steer, head teacher

"I don't expect everyone to call me 'Dame Enid'. Just as long as they don't do the same as my husband. He's been going round calling me 'Dame Edna'."

Alan Steer, who lives in Bushey, Hertfordshire, has been head teacher of Seven Kings High School in Ilford since 1985.

Despite three-quarters of its 1,360 pupils speaking English only as a second language, it has excelled in exams in recent years.

Last year, 80% of pupils gained five GCSEs at grades A* to C or equivalent.

Mr Steer said: "We have got wonderful staff. I couldn't speak more highly of them. They do the work and I get the award.

"I love the teaching profession and I love being a head teacher.

"The idea of someone making a fuss of me for doing something I love is strange."

Seven Kings also has a sixth form with 420 students. Last year, it sent 170 to university, 102 of whom studied for degrees in science or maths.

'Rounded individuals'

It has also pioneered work to include pupils with special needs and disabilities.

Mr Steer said: "We are proud of our results and want to give students a sense of self-worth.

"But we also want people to feel good about themselves and to be rounded individuals. In that sense, being a head teacher is no different from being a parent."

John Lewis
John Lewis started his 1,000-pupil school from scratch 15 years ago

John Lewis, OBE, principal of Dixons City Technology College, Bradford, is another head knighted for services to education.

Last year, the school had the eighth best GCSE results of any non-selective state school, with 94% of pupils gaining the equivalent of at least five good GCSEs.

This was after it had introduced individually tailored support to improve the results of previously low-achieving children.

Mr Lewis was made head of Dixons, which has 1,000 pupils, when it opened in 1989. He had previously been in charge of a brand-new school in Warrington.

He said: "I'm very lucky to have the chance to start a school from scratch twice. It means you can decide what staff you employ. They have been superb.

"One of our strengths is we are in an area with more than one culture. This honour is for the whole of the school and Bradford."

Meanwhile, Geoffrey Wakeford, OBE, chairman of the governing board of the Walsall City Academy, also receives a knighthood.

Among the other figures from the world of education honoured are:


  • Professor Hadyn Ellis, deputy vice-chancellor, University of Wales, Cardiff

  • Judith Anne Grylls, head teacher, Osmani Primary School, Tower Hamlets, London

  • Professor Olwen Hufton, emeritus fellow, Merton College, University of Oxford

  • Anne Lonsdale, president, New Hall, University of Cambridge

  • Colin MacLean, head teacher, Auchinleck Academy, Ayrshire

  • Lindsay Roy, head teacher, Inverkeithing High School, Fife

  • Paul Chandrasekharan Sabapathy, OBE, chairman and pro-chancellor, University of Central England

  • Andrew Seber, county education officer, Hampshire Local Education Authority

  • Professor William Stevely, principal and vice-chancellor, Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen

  • Colonel John Sweeting, chief executive, Treloar Trust and formerly chairman, Association of National Specialist Colleges

  • Ruth Westbrook, formerly head teacher, Tile Hill Wood Girls' School, Coventry.

  • Ewart Wooldridge, chief executive of the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education

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