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Centre Head Honoured In Awards List

The head of a Coventry project which has been praised for its work with young children and their parents has been rewarded for her efforts with an OBE.

Sheila Thorpe, was given the honour for “services to education” in the New Year’s Honours List.

Sheila, the head of the Hillfields Early Excellence Centre, said:

"This is wonderful news, it is a great honour in recognition of the important role that Hillfields has played and is continuing to play in the development of Integrated Services for families and children in the community.

“It is the commitment of the Management Team, together with parents and staff who have contributed to the success that is now recognised nationally and internationally."

Cllr George Duggins, cabinet member (Education and Libraries) led tributes to her, saying:

"I am delighted that Sheila has been awarded the OBE and on behalf of all my colleagues in the City Council I would like to offer her our warmest congratulations.

“It's a fitting reward for the work that Sheila has done for early years' both citywide and nationally."

Cathryn Goodwin, Strategic Director (Lifelong Learning), added:

"Sheila has achieved much during her career and has brought the importance of integrated early years' services, and of using a holistic approach to family support, to national prominence.

“Sheila, with the support of her staff, is responsible for making the Early Years Centre in Hillfields a flagship project to be proud of, and we appreciate all her hard work."

Prior to joining Coventry, Sheila taught in Nottingham and later in Solihull. She joined Coventry City Council as an Education Visitor at Alderman's' Green Primary School in 1980.

While in this role she successfully encouraged parents to bring their children to mother and toddler groups at the school, and introduced the children to education through play and provided support to parents.

She was appointed Deputy Head of Hillfields Nursery Centre in 1982 and Head of Centre in 1989.

Hillfields Early Years Centre was the first Combined Centre in the country in 1971. It was nominated under Sheila's leadership as one of the first group of seven Early Excellence Centres in December 1997.

The Centre shared its expertise with others when it held an "Excellence in Early Years" conference in 1999, which was attended by Margaret Hodge (Employment and Equal Opportunities Minister), who spoke about Early Excellence Centres and the government's Sure Start initiative.

In the first Ofsted inspection of Integrated Centres in February this year, the centre was praised for its work with families, and for its leadership.


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CWN / Coventry City Council / Hillfields Early Years Centre / 3 Jan 01

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