Second knighthood for school pioneer

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The man who persuaded Tony Blair to make specialist schools central to his secondary schools revolution has received a top award, against civil servant advice.

Sir Cyril Taylor, chairman of the Technology Colleges Trust since 1987, received the highest award within the Order of the British Empire - the Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire (GBE).

A leaked memo from the committee which draws up the honours suggested he be left off this list because his promotion would come "at the expense of an unknighted individual".

Sir Cyril, who was awarded a knighthood in 1989, has championed specialist secondary schools since they were devised in the mid-Eighties by the Conservatives.

Nearly 1,500 of the 3,200 secondary schools in England now have specialist status, which gives them extra funding and allows them to specialise in a curriculum area.

Dexter Hutt, a headteacher who achieved a dramatic improvement in his school's results and pioneered the first "federation" of state schools, has also been knighted for his services to education.

Mr Hutt, head of Ninestiles Secondary School in Birmingham, led a successful "twinning" scheme which partnered Ninestiles with a struggling local secondary school. Ninestile's results improved dramatically from 5 per cent of its pupils achieving five GCSE grades A* to C in 1988 to 72 per cent this year.