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Last Updated: Saturday, 29 December 2007, 00:01 GMT
Knighted Sir wins top recognition
Professor Timothy O'Shea
Professor Sir Timothy O'Shea receives a knighthood
A head teacher in a deprived part of London and a university vice-chancellor are among those knighted in the Queen's New Year Honours.

Alasdair Macdonald, 58, head of Morpeth School, in Tower Hamlets, is honoured for services to education.

Edinburgh University's vice-chancellor, Prof Timothy O'Shea, is made a knight for services to higher education.

A number of other head teachers and principals are honoured, along with crossing wardens and a school nurse.

The staff will give me a hard time - I am sure they'll keep my feet firmly on the ground
Sir Alasdair Mcdonald
Knighted head teacher

Sir Alasdair was singled out for a knighthood, in part, because of his success in turning around his school.

But he has also been honoured for his work for the government on improving education in urban areas.

Between 2003 and 2006, under his leadership, Morpeth School went from having 47% of its pupils attaining five good GCSEs (not including English and maths) to 75% attaining the benchmark standard.

Morpeth, where Sir Alasdair has been head teacher for 16 years, is in an area of high deprivation in east London.

Nearly three-quarters of its pupils are eligible for free school meals.

Sir Alasdair, originally from Dundee, said he was "excited" and "daunted" at the news of his knighthood.

He stressed that he could not take all the credit for the school's sustained improvement.

'Collective effort'

"I've never believed it possible for one head teacher to turn a school around.

"The head teacher is the figure-head, of course, but there's a huge sense of collective effort."

Sir Alasdair said he expected his pupils and colleagues to tease him about his knighthood when he returned to school for the new term.

"The staff will give me a hard time - I am sure they'll keep my feet firmly on the ground.".

Sir Timothy O'Shea said he was delighted with his knighthood and very pleased for the university as well.

He said Edinburgh University had been "booming" in all areas in recent years and that he thought the knighthood was a recognition of that.

Rugby coach honoured

He has been Edinburgh's vice-chancellor for six years and before that was Master at London's Birkbeck University.

Nine serving head teachers or principals were made OBEs in the honours list.

These include Sandie Dixie, of Greenhill Primary School in Oldham, Greater Manchester; Patricia Kennedy, of St Mark's Primary School in Barrhead, Renfrewshire; and Sister Brigid Halligan, of Bellerive Catholic College in Liverpool.

David Kendall, principal of Derwen Independent Specialist College, was also appointed an OBE, for special needs further education.

Five former head teachers or principals were also made OBEs.

Dr Peter Michael Neumann, a mathematics tutor at Queen's College, Oxford, and former chairman of UK Mathematics, was also made an OBE.

Among the other individuals recognised for their services to education are a school nurse, a rugby coach and two school crossing wardens.

Vivien Crouch was made an MBE for health services at a school in Bath, and Roger Harrison, secretary and head coach of Widnes Schools Rugby League Association, was honoured for services to school sport.

Crossing wardens Lucy Vale, from Dorridge in the West Midlands, and Dorothy Thompson, from North Shields, were made MBEs.

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