Former Headmistress, Valerie Dunsford has received an MBE in the New Year 2019 Honours List.

Valerie, who retired in July 2018 after 14 years as Headmistress at Sheffield High School for Girls, GDST has been honoured for services to education.

Commenting on the honour, Valerie said:

“I am absolutely thrilled and also very humbled to receive this award. I have enjoyed every minute of my career in education and it has been a privilege to work with so many inspirational colleagues and students along the way. I would like to thank everyone who has supported me and nominated me for the award.”

Having worked in both the maintained and independent education sectors during her 35 year career, Valerie is a passionate supporter of partnerships across the two educational sectors with the aim of learning from best practice and improving outcomes for all children, regardless of background.

At Sheffield Girls’, Valerie forged partnerships with 14 primary schools in the Sheffield South East Learning Partnership and with secondary schools in Sheffield, Rotherham and Barnsley to deliver initiatives designed to raise aspirations and share best practice.

Valerie instigated Sheffield High School for Girls work with educational charity SHINE to deliver Serious Fun on Saturdays, a programme designed to target able children whose performance in school and long term aspirations are limited by lack of confidence o opportunity.

The Serious Fun on Saturdays project at Sheffield Girls’ continues to support pupils from some of lowest performing primary school pupils in Sheffield to raise their attainment and aspirations. The programme sees pupils and teachers at Sheffield Girls’ working and learning with pupils and teachers from maintained primary schools across Sheffield and South Yorkshire to build confidence, develop ideas and encourage an enjoyment of learning.

During her time at Sheffield Girls’, Valerie also showed a steadfast commitment to the school’s bursary programme to open up an independent education to girls from a wide range of backgrounds.

Over 20% of the school’s pupils receive a bursary, the highest number in the Girls Day School Trust network of 25 schools. These are funded directly from the GDST or via local trusts.

Valerie is a proactive, hands on, incredibly forward thinking, selfless and inspiring individual, who always insists her achievements are nothing but a team effort. But, without Valerie’s wise words, resourceful approach and exemplary leadership, her far-reaching impact of raising aspirations in young people across South Yorkshire over the past decade, simply wouldn’t have happened.

Valerie is continuing her dedication to partnership working in her retirement. She is assisting the Girls’ Day School Trust with their on-going commitment to partnerships with schools in the maintained sector as well as being a Trustee for the South Yorkshire based Astrea Academy Trust and also supporting the Education Development Trust’s family of schools.