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A headteacher from Woodford Green lauded for turning around what was dubbed the “worst school in London” was made a Dame - one of the highest honours.

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Six years ago, Dame Joan McVittie took the reins at what was then White Hart Lane School in Haringey when it was on the brink of closure.

One of the first things she did to get the school – languishing at the bottom of the league tables – back on track was to rename it Woodside High, partly because many of the pupils were Arsenal fans and disliked the association with arch rivals Tottenham Hotspur’s home ground.

Last year Woodside High, in Wood Green, was rated one of the top 25 most improved schools in the country for its GCSE results.

Dame Joan, 60, said: “I couldn’t believe it. There are a lot of other people who have done good work and it just does not get acknowledged.

“I feel very lucky and this honour is also for all of the staff at both of my schools who put in such hard work.”

Dame Joan, 60, was also recognised for helping to turn around Leytonstone School and also for her national work for the National College, the Association of Schools and Colleges and the Youth Sport Trust.

She was one of four Redbridge residents to be rewarded for their contribution to society in the New Year Honours.

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