Education boss honoured for improving Hackney’s schools

The head of children’s services at Hackney council who has helped turn round Hackney schools has said team work has contributed to his CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.

Alan Wood is in charge of the service at the council and also the chief executive of the Learning Trust which was charged with turning Hackney schools around after they had gained a reputation for being some of the worst in the country.

He has been awarded the Commander of the Order of the British Empire for his services to education and local government. He only told his wife Eleanor a week before the announcement was made public and his children just after the list of honours was officially released.

He told the Gazette: “I’m very proud and pleased to get the award and pleased that the reason for it is what has been achieved in Hackney in the last eight or so years. It’s really great that’s been recognised.”

He became chief executive of The Learning Trust in 2001. It was the first private, not-for-profit company to take over a local authority’s entire education function. It had the remit to turn around or close failing schools and set up academies. It has just one more year to run looking after education for the 27,000 pupils in Hackney.

He became head of children’s services at the council in 2006, a role with responsibility for children’s social care and youth services, which have just been praised in a new report.

Mr Wood who lives in London Fields said one of the measures of success at the Learning Trust is that parents used to fight to get their children away from Hackney schools - now they are anxious for their children to attend school in the borough.

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He said it was essential everyone knew what their role was in transforming education.

“We are all part of this together, recreating the education community in Hackney.”

Mr Wood, 57, comes from a family of ten children and was born in Stepney. After training as a history teacher he taught in Birmingham and inner London and specialised in education for children with emotional difficulties, before becoming a director at Lambeth council.