1st Jul, 2022

Coventry Principal Paul Cook honoured with MBE

Ryan Smith 2nd Jun, 2022

THE PRINCIPAL of a special education school in Coventry has been made an MBE in The Queen’s Birthday Honours for his services to young people with disabilities.

Paul Cook became Principal and CEO of Hereward College in 2017 and has played a leading role in enhancing the city’s special educational needs and disability (SEND) sector over the last decade.

Hereward College has seen a significant upturn in fortunes since he took up the role, being graded ‘outstanding’ for finance and ‘good’ in every other category in its Ofsted report.

The number of Hereward graduates undertaking paid work is now at 19 per cent – more than three times the national average.

Mr Cook also holds several national roles, including Director of Employment for Natspec – a membership organisation for 117 specialist further education and training providers for students with learning difficulties and disabilities.

He, who has more than 20 years’ experience in further education, is also a member of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Assistive Technology.

Mr Cook is originally from Blyth and started as a public services tutor in Sheffield during his time as a police constable in the late 1990s.

His love for teaching began when he took up the role of a police self-defence trainer.

The 50-year-old started a full-time career in further education at Bridgwater College in 2000 and also had spells at South Cheshire College and Northumberland College, where he became assistant principal.

He helped several colleges in special measures with their quality and finances during his time with the Learning and Skills Improvement Service (LSIS) and spent five years as a part-time Ofsted inspector.

Paul said he was ‘incredibly surprised’ to receive an MBE.

“I want to dedicate the award to my wife Dawn and children, who have supported me as I have worked in colleges around the country, and use it to further raise the profile of the needs of learners with SEND.

“At Hereward we impact more profoundly the life chances of young people with SEND as we don’t just give them the academic qualifications – we give them the skills needed for all facets of their adult life. It’s hugely rewarding work.”

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