UWE awards honorary degree to Ray Priest

Issue date: 11 December 2006


Ray Priest The University of the West of England is awarding the honorary degree of Doctor of Education to Ray Priest in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the contemporary debate about education and schools, and especially in recognition of his achievements as Principal of the City Academy, Bristol. The honorary degree will be conferred on Friday 15 December at the City Academy. This is the first time the City Academy has been used as a location for an honorary degree ceremony and certificates of achievement will also be presented to past and present pupils.

Ray Priest was born in Hackney, London and attended Kingsmead Comprehensive School, the first comprehensive school in Enfield. He attended St Paul's College, Cheltenham, where he completed a Bachelor of Education with Honours, conferred by Bristol University. He began his teaching career at Abbotsford High School, London, where he was promoted to Head of Drama, then Deputy Head of Year. He moved to Chace Community School, London, as Head of Year and Vocational Education Co-ordinator, and then to Isleworth and Syon School, Hounslow, as Deputy Head.

In 1992, Ray Priest was appointed Head of St George School, Bristol. St George School subsequently became a community school and then a community college and this change resulted in the commencement of a range of adult courses and community regeneration initiatives. In 2001 St George Community College joined the flagship Academies programme, with sponsorship from John Laycock (Bristol City Football Club) and the University of West of England. The new City Academy, the first in the south west, opened in 2003. Under the leadership of Ray Priest as Principal, the City Academy has become: a major learning community for eleven to eighteen year old students together with adult students and a centre for adults with learning difficulties; an employment links service; and, a children's centre. The City Academy is a partner in the development of the South Bristol Sports Centre and is developing links with Millfield School and Colston's Girls School. It has specialist sports status and enjoys close links with the Youth Sports Trust.

Ray Priest completed a Master of Education with Brunel University in 1992 and also has diplomas in Educational Management and Counselling. In 1995, he was invited to be part of the national executive for Business in the Community. Having previously served on advisory groups on anti-bullying in schools and guidance to schools, in 2005 he was invited by the Secretary of State to be a member of the Steer Committee reporting on behaviour and discipline in schools. Recently he has been an advisor to a consortium delivering 'Leading from the Middle' training on behalf of National College of School Leadership. Ray Priest has undertaken exchanges with schools in Barbados, Jamaica, Gambia and California and in November this year, he led a delegation on school leadership for discussion with authorities in Shanghai, China. He has been involved in a range of educational television programmes and has published articles in educational magazines and the press.

A trustee of Community at Heart, a neighbourhood regeneration partnership, Ray Priest is also Chair of the local primary schools strategic partnership. He is a judge for the annual teaching awards and in 2004 was awarded the Promethean Award of Headteacher of the Year in a secondary school in the West of England.

-ENDS-

Editors note:

In addition City Academy staff member Natasha Reeves will also receive her Degree of Master of Arts Education at the ceremony.

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