Queen’s birthday honours: Ex-Ofsted chief and OGAT boss scoop top gongs

Forty-six people with links to England's schools community have been recognised

Forty-six people with links to England's schools community have been recognised

A former Ofsted chief inspector and the head of one of England’s largest academy trusts have been awarded top gongs in the Queen’s birthday honours.

Christine Gilbert, who led Ofsted from 2006 to 2011, has been made a dame and Martyn Oliver, the chief executive of the Outwood Grange Academies Trust, has been knighted.

Gilbert, who is a visiting professor at the UCL Institute of Education and chairs the charities Future First and Camden Learning, already held a CBE.


Oliver joined OGAT in 2009, initially as principal of Outwood Grange Academy, and became the trust’s chief executive in 2016.

He was “delighted to have been recognised”, with the honour a “tribute to all at Outwood”.

“It is great recognition of all that we achieved at Outwood and in the communities we proudly serve.

“Whilst I am truly humbled at receiving this most prestigious award, it has been my honour to serve so many children and to raise the standards of their education working alongside some of the most dedicated and committed colleagues you could wish for.”

46 people honoured for schools work

In total, people with links to England’s schools community scooped 46 gongs, including one damehood, one knighthood, three CBEs, 13 OBEs, 24 MBEs and four British Empire Medals.


Eight of those honoured were academy trust chief executives or executive headteachers, including Dr Tim Coulson, a former regional schools commissioner who is CEO at the Unity Schools Partnership, who has received a CBE.

Coulson said the award is “for all the amazing people with whom I have had the good fortune to work with and alongside.

“So many of them have brought passion and determination to improve education and life chances for children and I am privileged to have seen the difference they have made.”


Other CEOs honoured include Dr Thomas Canning from the Boleyn Trust, who also got a CBE, while OBEs went to Paula Farrow of the Nexus Education Schools Trust, Jane Fearnley from the Willow Tree Academy Trust and Dr Elaine Allen, executive head at St John Vianney School in Blackpool.

Also awarded the OBE are Jonathan Johnson from the West Lakes Multi Academy Trust, Lee Mason-Ellis, the CEO of the Pioneer Academy Trust, while Sue Marooney, boss of the Durrington Multi Academy Trust, received an MBE.

‘It shows children can achieve anything if they set their mind to it’

Mason-Ellis, who drove to the Polish-Ukraine border to deliver vital supplies to refugees fleeing the Russian invasion earlier this year, said: “I hope this achievement will show children at all schools across the trust that they can achieve anything they set their mind to. 

“I truly believe in the power of education to transform lives and throughout my career I have strived to make sure that children in schools that I have taught in, and led, have the absolute best start in life.”

Mason Ellis delivering supplies for Ukraine refugees

Eight current or former headteachers were also recognised. OBEs went to Shahina Ahmad from Eden Girls’ School in east London and Rohit Naik from Hope School in Liverpool.

Ahmad said: “I wish to dedicate this award to my father who always encouraged me to take risks, aim high and be the very best version of myself.”

Jennifer Adamson, head of Saffron Valley Collegiate School in London, Julie Brandreth, former head of the County High School in Leftwich, Cheshire, Caterine Connolly, from Brownhill Learning Community and Yvonne Davis, former head of Oak View primary school in Hatfield all received the MBE.

Neely Hayes and her son Finnley

Donna Neely-Hayes, head at Denbigh High School in Luton, was awarded an MBE for both her services to education and raising hundreds of thousands of pounds to support her young son Finnley, who has a rare form of cancer. Her partner Ali was a finalist for the Pride of Britain awards. Finnley, after being diagnosed with Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma in 2017 when he was just 16 months old, is now in remission.

Adrian Rogers, chief executive at Chiltern Learning Trust which runs the school, said Donna’s “commitment to education, her family and fundraising is truly remarkable.

“Donna absolutely deserves this MBE as the work she has done to balance personal commitments to charity whilst ensuring Denbigh High School remains an outstanding school for our young people is utterly outstanding. She is an inspiration to us all.”

Among those honored were also six school governors or trustees, including Kamruddin Kothia, chair of trustees at Star Academies, who received an OBE.


Kothia said: “It is truly humbling to be part of such a talented and dedicated team, and I am proud of what we have collectively achieved – especially during the most challenging and extraordinary times over the past couple of years.”

You can read the full list of those honoured for services to education related to schools here.

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