Carlton Junior and Infant School headteacher Rizwana Mahmood (Credit: Shagufta Mirza)

An award-winning headteacher who has changed the fate of a Dewsbury school in recent years is being awarded an MBE.

Rizwana Mahmood Ahmed is the kind of dynamic and daring educator every parent dreams of. Far from being a clone enslaved by professional orthodoxy, Rizwana runs her Carlton Junior and Infant School through her awe-inspiring personality and passion.

Carlton Junior and Infant School is not only the top primary in Kirklees, it’s also ranked within the top 1% of high performing schools in the entire country.

Rizwana embraced her role as an educator by default. She explains: “I started my teaching career during the 90s in Manningham, Bradford, and although there were many challenges, I found I thoroughly enjoyed teaching and leading.

“Moving to Kirklees in 2008, I was no stranger to the challenges but had many opportunities to expand my work further including making regional and national contributions in the field of education.”

As headteacher at the Dewsbury primary school, Rizwana has successfully instilled her vision – also the school’s motto, to ‘Dream, Aspire and Achieve’ with great enthusiasm.

Her leadership qualities, emotional intelligence and ambitions to turn-around the previously failing school has seen OFSTED inspectors give the school glowing reports.

Talking to the Asian Express, Rizwana says: “It gives me great pleasure to see that Carlton Junior and Infants rank at the top in Kirklees and within the top 1% of high performing schools in the country.

“After years of hard work, many challenges and changes have taken place and we amongst the top ranking schools.

“It’s just an absolute honour to lead such a talented group of individuals who make things happen for our children.”

Her school has pioneered awards within the Yorkshire and Humber region such as the SMSC Gold Standard, leading the way with the Engaging Families Award in Kirklees and the One Education Award in Reading.

Talking about receiving an MBE, Rizwana says: “Throughout my career I have and will continue to work for a cause, and not for applause. But on receiving the MBE, I am absolutely lost for words and truly humbled to say the least!

“I am honoured that the King considers an individual like me worthy of this recognition thus it is my obligation to continue serving to help others.

“I am passionate about improving the life chances of children and families and always prepared to go the extra mile just so that those in need are in a better place. Leadership is a service and I will continue to serve communities in my care.

“My work with local and national charities will continue and wherever possible, I will continue to go above and beyond for life beyond the school boundaries.

“This MBE is dedicated to my parents, family, friends and colleagues who have been a part of my journey and have both witnessed the challenges and achievements and have supported me in my continuous drive for better outcomes for all.”

Carlton Junior and Infant School is been ranked tenth in the top 100 schools for Diversity and Equality.

“To think that we were a significantly underperforming school, echoing the stereotype of deprived communities, to where we are now is a remarkable achievement for our school and its community.”

Rizwana loves the diversity of the staff, children and wider community. She talks of how they embrace all of the cultures and beliefs she strongly advocates.

“I ensure that the professional development of my staff is cutting edge and contextually relevant so that they are equipped to deliver high quality education for all children. My school has achieved the NACE Award which afforded us the opportunity to share our practice nationally.

“As the Managing Director of my own consultancy and as an advisory head, over the last few years, my reach has widened on a national level. Some of this work includes being the co-founder of Oxbridge minds in collaboration with the University of Oxford, enabling children from deprived areas to experience these elite institutions.

“My drive to improve the educational and life chances for children with a lack of opportunities will continue locally, regionally and nationally. My position as a Muslim South Asian female in a leadership position is quite a privilege, and allows me to drive that agenda.”