John Phillips A HEADTEACHER who turned a Dagenham comprehensive threatened with closure into one of state education s leading lights has received a knighthood. Paul Grant famously suspended 300 unruly pupils in his first week at the helm of Robert Clack School, Gosfiel
A HEADTEACHER who turned a Dagenham comprehensive threatened with closure into one of state education's leading lights has received a knighthood.
Paul Grant famously suspended 300 unruly pupils in his first week at the helm of Robert Clack School, Gosfield Road, in 1997 in a bid to enforce discipline.
In February, it was identified by Ofsted as one of just 12 former "sink" schools in the country that had excelled "against all odds".
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His vigorous campaigning to tackle a 30 per cent truancy rate, atrocious behaviour, poor standards and a "rock bottom" reputation paid off, with the science school having achieved the highest A-level results in the borough last year and pupils regularly landing places at Oxbridge and other top universities.
The eldest of seven children in a working class family from Liverpool, Mr Grant was stunned to be knighted in the Queen's Birthday Honours list at the weekend.
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But he paid tribute to colleagues, pupils and the community as a whole.
Mr Grant said: "I was completely surprised when I received the letter and it came as a huge shock.
"The knighthood is not just for me but also for my colleagues, pupils, parents, governors, the local authority, the council and also the community who have all contributed to the success at Robert Clack."
Barking and Dagenham Council leader Labour Cllr Liam Smith said the achievement was "fantastic" and a "fitting tribute" to his vision.
Cllr Smith said: "What he has done for children in the borough is fantastic. He has worked tirelessly to turn a failing school into one of the best achieving in the borough, and his input into education has been outstanding."
Former Barking firefighter Les Bowman, 44, who saved two children from a burning house in Dagenham in the late 80s, and now helms Kingsland Fire Station, was awarded the Queen's Fire Service Medal.