Academy heads recognised in Queen’s Birthday Honours

The executive principal of the school where a teacher was stabbed this week and the head of a charity dedicated to raising the achievement of underprivileged children are among those recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours today.

For Nick Weller, the news came at the end of a turbulent week. On Thursday, the executive principal of Dixons Academies Trust heard that a supply teacher had been stabbed by a 14-year-old pupil in one of his Bradford schools.

Today, however, he was awarded a knighthood, as part of the Queen’s Birthday Honours.

Kevan Collins (pictured above), chief executive of the Education Endowment Fund, also receives a knighthood.

Sir Nick said he was “humbled by the honour, and very grateful for the recognition it gives our family of academies, our staff and our students”.

But he added: “My main thoughts at the moment are with a colleague who is continuing to make steady progress in hospital, and with a school which is also recovering from the event on Thursday.”

For Sir Kevan, however, news of the honour was less bittersweet. “Oh, how can you feel?” he said. “I’m excited and incredibly honoured. It genuinely isn’t something I expected. I’m thrilled.

“It’s for service to children and education. That’s been my career, and my life. I’ve always been grateful to have had that opportunity to do that.”

Sir Nick is not the only academy leader to have been recognised. Diana Owen, chief executive and trustee of the LEAD Academy Trust, which runs 12 schools, was appointed CBE. So too was Hamid Patel, chief executive of Tauheedul Education, which helps to run a network of academies and free schools.

John Henderson, executive headteacher of White Woods Multi-Academy Trust in Rotherham, and Georgetta Holloway, head of Heath Park Academy in Wolverhampton, were appointed OBE.

Harris Bokhari was also appointed OBE, in recognition of his work championing diversity education. Mr Bokhari was one of the founders of the Naz Legacy Foundation, which encourages pupils from ethnic minorities to integrate positively into society. The foundation was named after Mr Bokhari’s father Naz, the first Muslim secondary headteacher in the UK.

A number of people who were involved in setting up free schools – a flagship Conservative education policy – were also recognised in the birthday honours. These include Peter Kessler, founder and chair of governors at Eden Primary in North London, one of the first free schools to open. He was appointed MBE. Linda Crawley, chair of governors at Alban City School in Hertfordshire, was also appointed MBE.

Sir Kevan believes it is important that the work of teachers and education workers is recognised publicly in this way.

“The honours system is part of our culture and part of who we are,” he said. “It’s great that, while we have a system like this, people who contribute to education and to children are recognised.”

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