Lewisham College head, Maxine Room gets CBE

Maxine Room pic: Lewisham.ac.uk

Maxine Room, Principal of Lewisham college, has been awarded a C.B.E for services to education and Super-Head Robin Bosher, a knighthood, in the Queens birthday honours.

In a statement released today (Monday) Ms Room said:  “I am honoured to be awarded a CBE in recognition for services to further education and race and gender equality. I am filled with great pride to receive this as part of a community of educators, in this Jubilee year, who strive day-in and day-out with passion and commitment to ensure the success of future generations. I have a particular passion and commitment to ensuring equality and it is truly wonderful that the work I have done in this area has been recognised in this way.”

Room was only the second black woman to be appointed as a college principal in England and was the first in Wales. She began her career at Bridgwater College, moved on to Somerset and Filton colleges in managerial  roles before being appointed  principal at  Swansea College.  She came to Lewisham four years ago.

Speaking to Eastlondonlines Room said that when she heard she had been given this honour she felt extremely proud and very surprised.  “The people I work with, near and far, and the passion they have for our learners constantly inspires me to do more. And the thing that makes it all worthwhile – the difference that education makes in people’s lives.”

Talking about the future of the college she said: “I am committed to making a difference to our local communities by providing high quality and relevant education and skills training.  How that is delivered in five, ten years time may be very different to how the college looks now but the outcome will be the same; people will have the learning and skills they need to go onto successful lives whether that is as part of the local workforce as entrepreneurs or as a step in to future learning.

Lewisham has one of the largest young populations in London: one in four are under 19.  Room has reflected in the past that her race and gender have meant a struggle on the ladder of success but they have made her a stronger more determined person.

Robin Landman, chief executive of the Network for Black Professionals, said of her appointment:  “Maxine is  one of a small but illustrious list of 11 Black principals in English FE, and her appointment at Lewisham will automatically place her in the spotlight, and hopefully be the precursor to a number of senior appointments in London colleges that can at last provide the capital’s Black (and White) learners, with role models that reflect the demographics of modern Britain”.

Room is a member of the 157 Group which is committed to providing excellence at  27  further education colleges and institutions in mostly urban regions, all members are highly successful and key leaders in their areas, improving the quality of further Education, she  is one of 12 Principals  working together to transform their colleges through The Gazelle Group.  She is also a mentor with the Black Leadership Initiative and on the board of  the Northern Ballet Theatre the first Ballet company to be set up outside of London.

Student Rose Pavitt 19, said: “I’m studying music and I really love doing it here, I’m enjoying myself”.

Room was congratulated via Twitter by Graham Watts, chair of the Critics Circle dance section, by David Hughes, CEO of  education organisation NIACE and by barrister, Elissa Da Costa.

Lewisham Super-Head, Sir Robin Bosher, who took on Fairlawn Primary School, Haseltine Primary and Kilmorie Primary has been knighted. Sir Robin expressed his surprise at getting a knighthood and said “I’ve been very fortunate to be a head teacher for 24 years. It’s been a huge pleasure to have so much influence over children’s lives and to help transform them.”

He helped what were at the time  struggling schools and, running them as a federation, he has transformed them. He appointed three heads for the schools but took over the standards raising initiative himself. He said that it wasn’t always an easy relationship with the schools and other organisations involved in the improvement of the schools but  that:  “Maintaining a humble approach helped” .

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