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