A Bolton school trust head has spoke of her delight after been awarded an Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the King’s Birthday Honours list.

Karen Bramwell, chief executive officer of Bolton-headquartered Forward as One CE Academy Trust, has been awarded an Order of the British Empire for her services to education as she reaches 38 years of teaching in the town.

Starting her career at High Lawn Primary School in Bolton in 1986, Karen was appointed headteacher of St Paul’s CE Primary School in Astley Bridge in 1998, taking the school to Outstanding in 2013 – a rating which has been maintained ever since.

Under Karen’s leadership as a National Leader of Education, St Paul’s became a National Support School, going on to support dozens of Greater Manchester schools and transforming the education of thousands of young people.

Multi-academy trust Forward As One was founded in 2012, allowing Karen and the St Paul’s CE, Bolton team to continue their support long-term, delivering sustained school improvement which has established centres of excellence amongst its family of schools.

This currently comprises of 14 primaries across Greater Manchester, empowering children and communities through high standards of education.

Karen focuses on the development of school leaders, advocating that strong leaders have the ability to build strong schools anywhere, no matter their challenges.

A facilitator of professional leadership training, Karen takes an active role in shaping the next generation of excellent school leaders and has achieved real outcomes, turning around the fortunes of schools which may be struggling or placed into special measures.

During her career Karen has been leadership director of Greater Manchester Challenge, a member of the Lancashire and West Yorkshire DFE Headteacher Board, has been cited by HM Chief Inspector as an example of how strong leadership transforms the outcomes of schools, and is currently appointed to the Greater Manchester Greater Manchester Education Investment Priority Area Board.

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Karen said: “I am honoured to receive the OBE, which I am thrilled to accept on behalf of everyone within our Forward As One trust family.

“Throughout my career, I have been privileged to work with exceptional people and the success of our trust is due to the collaboration, commitment and vocation that our talented team shares in improving educational outcomes and opportunities for young people.

“Schools are uniquely positioned to build stronger local communities.

“Excellent education empowers every young person, giving them the essential tools they need to take forward to identify and achieve their goals, turning around the fortunes of underprivileged areas over time.

“I remain as focused as ever on improving education and creating strong future leaders, and I’m excited about what lies ahead for Forward As One.”                

Bolton-born Karen has continued a rich family history of public service, her parents, Eunice and Brian Town, having been involved in Girl Guiding, the RAF and Air Training Corps.

Karen’s OBE adds to that awarded to her husband Simon Bramwell OBE in 2017, also for services to education, making the Bramwell household a unique force for leadership in education.

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