Dr Sam Parrett, Group Principal and CEO of London & South East Education Group has been awarded a CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) for Services to Education in the Queen’s 2021 Birthday Honours list.
The honour recognises Sam’s ongoing dedication to education at all levels. This includes the establishment and leading of London South East Academies Trust (formerly Bromley Educational Trust); A Multi-Academy Trust currently incorporating seven alternative provision and special schools and one mainstream school across Bromley, Bexley and most recently, Surrey.
The network of schools has grown and developed under Sam’s leadership of the FE college-led Trust. The unique Group structure is ensuring that children and young people, many with a range of special educational needs, have access to high quality provision and care from birth right through to 25 and beyond.
With three of the schools being in special measures before joining the Trust, Sam’s drive and determination has led to stark improvement (two out of these three are now rated Good with the other awaiting an Ofsted inspection). As a result, many particularly vulnerable children now have the opportunity to reach their full potential in inspiring, supportive and nurturing environments.
The CBE builds on the OBE that Sam received in 2017 for her work within the Further Education sector. Having taken up the post of Principal of Bromley College in 2010, she has spent the last 11 years dedicated to expanding and improving education for people of all ages and abilities across the region.
This included overseeing the country’s first three-way college merger in 2016, which led to the creation of London South East Colleges with campuses across Bromley, Bexley and Greenwich, and the establishment of London & South East Education Group. Throughout the pandemic, Sam and her team have worked tirelessly to support students and the wider community – establishing a national FE foodbank campaign and partnering with an NHS Trust to support the vaccine rollout.
In addition, Sam supports the wider national social and economic agenda as an elected member for CBI London, a board member for the Association of Colleges (AoC) and a disability commissioner for the Office for Students. She is also a National Leader of Further Education and a fellow of the CIPD.
Going forward, Sam is focused on the Group’s operations as a wide-reaching social enterprise. This work has recently been recognised by the national Social Value Awards, in which the College won an accolade for Public Sector Leadership.
This pioneering and collaborative educational model is meeting the diverse needs of many communities and individuals, helping them to aspire to and reach their career ambitions, while positively impacting the local, regional and national economy.
Commenting on Sam’s achievements, Chair of London & South East Education Group, Stephen Howlett CBE, DL says: “I am so pleased that Sam has received this honour, which recognises the great contribution she has made to education throughout her career. She is driven by her commitment to creating learning opportunities for all students, enabling them to make the most of their abilities.
“Sam is an energetic and inspirational leader of our staff team and is respected and valued by many organisations with whom she has forged partnerships. The last year has highlighted Sam’s strengths and she has really stepped up to the challenges that Covid-19 has brought to students, staff and communities.
“In every sense, Sam has created the London and South East Education Group – transforming the schools and college within it and making it the success it is today. Knowing Sam, she will credit this honour to her many colleagues and our students, but it needs an exceptional leader to develop and fulfil those plans which have led to our success.”
Chair of London South East Academies Trust, Mark Burnett, adds: “On behalf of all the staff, pupils, parents, governors and directors of London South East Academies Trust, we want to congratulate Sam on this exceptional recognition.
“Sam has and continues to have such a positive impact on many thousands of individuals’ lives in her role as Group Chief Executive of our Multi-Academy Trust, but also her work with our College. This exceptional recognition is thoroughly deserved for someone who works tirelessly to give every learner, regardless of their background, context or ability, the very best chance in life.”
Receiving her honour, Sam says: “I am overwhelmed to be recognised with such an honour. It has all come as a complete surprise and I am incredibly grateful.
“It reflects the huge amount of work and dedication many people have put in over the past few years – along with the great support I have received from local authorities and other partners who have put their confidence in my team and I to deliver.
“As a result, AP and SEN provision across London and the south east has been expanded and strengthened, meaning that more young people are getting the specialist education and support they need. Our College-led Group structure is also facilitating progression, ensuring that our students have the best possible chances of moving on successfully into FE and employment.
“I thank every single member of my team who has supported me over the years – and indeed my incredibly supportive family. By providing high quality education for people of all ages and backgrounds, achieve their career goals and fulfil their potential.”
The Queen’s birthday honours recognise the outstanding achievements of people across the United Kingdom. They are awarded on merit, for exceptional achievement or service. The CBE is awarded to individuals for having a prominent role at national level, or a leading role at regional level.