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MBE honours Islington teacher’s role in reading breakthrough

New Year’s list award goes to retired teacher ‘who just did what she had to do’

04 January, 2018 — By Samantha Booth

Philippa Dodds John

A RETIRED teacher who helped change the way children are taught to read is among Islington residents recognised in the New Year’s Honours list.

Philippa Dodds John, 73, who has lived in Richmond Crescent, Barnsbury, for 42 years, was awarded an MBE for her services to young people and culture in the capital. As part of a team, she worked in Tower Hamlets researching a new learning-to-read strategy after she found some 11-year-olds could not read and write properly in the 1990s. The strategy, which was adopted at primary schools across London, saw children learning the pronunciation of letters at a younger age.

Also during her career, she worked at the School of Oriental and African Studies and is now governor at Bloomsbury-based charity Coram, which helps vulnerable children find adoptive families and uses music therapy to help traumatised youngsters. Ms Dodds John, a mother-of-five and grandmother-of-four, said she had never thought about receiving an honour as she just did what she “had to do”. “It was a delightful surprise,” she said. “You have to get a child’s education right as that child only has one chance.” After four decades living in Islington, she said she “wouldn’t live anywhere else”.

Professor John Sloboda, 67, who lives in Highbury Quadrant, received an OBE for his work in studying how audiences react to different music. After 34 years as a professor of psychology at Keele University, in Staffordshire, he moved to Islington in 2009 to take up a post at Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Semi-retired, Mr Sloboda is internationally regarded for his work on the psychology of music. His advisory role covers the ways classical musicians can relate to a younger audience.

On receiving his OBE, Mr Sloboda, a trained pianist, said: “I was in complete shock. I could not take it in.” Also recognised was Maureen Hercules, founder and headteacher at Dallington School, a family-run independent school in Clerkenwell where pupils do not wear uniform, who received an MBE.

Wharf Road gallery owner Victoria Miro was given an OBE for her services to art.

Other Islington residents honoured included Rosemary Millard, chair of Hull City of Culture 2017, who received an OBE; Anthony Impey (MBE), founder of Optimity, an internet provider for businesses in London, honoured for his “services to apprenticeships, small businesses and broadband connectivity”; and Sabrina Francis (British Empire Medal), a social media officer at City University in Islington.

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