An inspirational teacher who was knighted by the Queen for services to education has received an honorary degree from Edge Hill University.
Sir Iain Hall has taught for 39 years, the last 23 as headteacher. He is an Associate Director of the Specialist Schools and Academics Trust and is currently seconded as Executive Advisor to the National Director of Training for the National Future Leaders Initiative which he helped to set up. His award recognises the significant contribution he has made to national changes in approaches to school leadership and the close affiliation he has with the University.
The 67-year-old studied with Edge Hill whilst a teacher at Brookfield School in the 1970s and cites the institution as one of his first forays into teaching and learning. He holds fond memories of, the then, Edge Hill College from 1975, when he engaged with the science department for three years making physics ‘real’ for urban students. He was clearly addressing then, as he continues to do today, key issues which face educational engagement and student success. His belief that all children can succeed if you believe in them and a willingness to share approaches that work is integral to his supportive relationship with the University.
Upon receiving his honorary doctorate award, Sir Iain said: “I’m flattered that Edge Hill is giving me this award. I’ve spent my whole life enjoying myself teaching children and it seems strange to be given an award for simply loving what I do. One of the really magnificent points about the award is that I was nominated by Professor Mark Schofield at the University, who I actually taught at a school in Kirkby. I always knew he was a bright young student and to see him become a Professor was so rewarding, so it is even more exciting for me to receive the honorary degree from Edge Hill.”
Born and bred as “a proud inner city Scouser” in his own words, his education began at Penryhn Street Primary School in Liverpool. He subsequently won a scholarship to Liverpool Collegiate and then, based upon his love of his city and the north-west, elected to study mathematics and physics at Liverpool University. He was a teacher at Brookfield School in Kirkby, Deputy Head at Glenburn School in Skelmersdale and became Head of Breckfield Community School in Liverpool. As Head of Parrs Wood High in Manchester, he led this school to gain specialist status and Beacon School designation, gaining national recognition.
As a teacher and headteacher, Sir Iain has always demonstrated a motivation and strength of character to overcome challenges presented by inner city environments such as Liverpool, Skelmersdale and Manchester, communities that may be considered underprivileged by many. Rather than be inhibited by them, his passion for education and wanting them to do well has paid off. He said: “All my life I have worked in challenging schools where children were seen as being lost causes. Yet I believe that every child has so much potential and can succeed. I always remember being given 10 disillusioned Year 10 pupils at a school in Kirkby who were perceived to be very disruptive and unlikely to succeed. Two years later every one of them passed their physics exams, which was one of my proudest achievements and reinforces my theory that every child has potential, you just have to believe in them and raise their aspirations.”
It is this belief that is so important and which he is passing on to others through his training aspiring headteachers.
Sir Iain was knighted by Her Majesty the Queen for ‘services to education’ in 2002.
He has also been a National College of School Leadership Governor, a key member of the UK Specialist Schools and Academies Trust and was seconded to the Future Leaders organisation. He has also been involved in developing rubrics for the Urban Excellence Framework as part of his role with counterparts in the USA. His belief in the need for successful urban education led him to jointly setting up the Great Schools for All Children organisation.