A Birmingham head teacher described as a “visionary” by colleagues, has been made an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.
Maire Symons, head of Bishop Challoner Catholic School in Kings Heath, has more than doubled results since taking over the school in 1998.
When she arrived, the proportion of youngsters getting five A*-C at GCSE was 38 per cent. Last year it was 83 and the school has been among the top-performing in the country for years.
On Thursday Ms Symons attributed her success to a belief in the potential of young people to achieve.
“I believe very strongly that all young people have great potential and at our school and every school it is for us to enable them to fulfil that potential and become really good citizens that will contribute to society,” she said.
Ms Symons said despite the bad publicity received by young people in recent times, most of them in Birmingham were “fantastic”.
“They have ambitions to do well and it bodes well for the future of Birmingham. That is not to say there aren’t many problems but on the whole it is the minority that gives young people a very bad press.
“In my school the amount of money they raise for charity is amazing and that doesn’t just happen here but at many schools.
“The overwhelming majority of young people aren’t involved in crime. They want to do well. They want to study and work and be safe in their community.”
Originally from a small village called Bolton-le-Sands in Lancashire, Ms Symons started her teaching career in Coventry after studying modern languages and teacher training at Birmingham University.
The mother-of-two lives in Olton.