A college principal “hasn’t quite come to terms with the news”  that she is now a dame.

Dr Christine Braddock, principal and chief executive of Birmingham Metropolitan College, was  recognised in the 2013 New Year Honours list  for services to further education.

She is one of 12 dames on this year’s list and joins the ranks of a rare group of college leaders, including Dame Ruth Silver, chair of the Learning and Skills Improvement Service, who was honoured in 2006, and  Geoff Hall, the  former principal of New College Nottingham,  who was knighted last year.

“It’s amazing — absolutely fantastic and incredible for FE to be recognised at this level,” said Dr Braddock, 58.

“When I got the letter I thought just how amazing it was, not just for me but for everyone — the leader gets all the accolades but it’s the team that should get the credit.”

The Lancashire-born principal, who lives in Worcester, has 30 years’ experience in senior leadership of  FE colleges. Before that she worked as a senior education adviser for the Home Office, managing education policy in 43 prisons across the Midlands.

She said she believed she was recognised because her college was “an absolutely integral part of the community”.

“All the work we do is about serving the needs of the community. We are outward facing.”

She was the first president of Birmingham’s Chamber of Commerce from the public sector for 200 years and this year will become the first FE figure to become a High Sheriff when she takes on the role for the West Midlands.

“That shows you how the city of Birmingham sees us,” she said. “We are a facilitator and a sister to the needs of the city — I have seen all aspects of community life and I’m so proud of the individuals I see changing their lives year after year. Some come with nothing and then leave with first-class qualifications, a great achievement for everyone involved.

“That’s why I stay in FE — I still get the same buzz as when I started.”

Dr Braddock, who has three children with husband Tony,  is a member of the 157 Group and a council member of  Aston University.

FE figures awarded CBEs this year include Angela O’Donoghue, principal of South Essex College, John Reilly, principal Mid Cheshire College, and Les Walton, the former principal of Tyne Metropolitan College, which he created after a merger.

Ms O’Donoghue started a sixth-form college from scratch, BSix, in Hackney and worked with the 157 Group raising the profile of international work in colleges.

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