John O’Neill, Regional Director for the Groups learning centres, has been awarded an OBE in recognition of services to children with special educational needs and disabilities. The award recognises John’s sustained passion and commitment to improving the lives of young people with SEN and helping them to achieve their potential.

An OBE is a Queen’s honour given to an individual for a major local role in any activity such as business, charity or the public sector.

John began his career in teaching in 1983 at a community college in East Sussex, followed by a post in London. He then returned to the North East to work at a residential school in County Durham where he worked for fourteen years, before joining a special needs school in Darlington, where he worked for a further eleven years. For the past five years, he has worked for our Group, initially as the Head Teacher of Oakwood Learning Centre, then Executive Headteacher of Oakwood Learning Centre and The Grange Learning Centre and more recently as a Regional Director overseeing the Integrated Learning Centres.

Dame Dela Smith who worked with John for many years commented on his award:

John is one in a million in his field, a unique individual who can engage, lead and inspire children whom others have failed to help. He seeks the strategies and levers to help every child succeed, firmly believing that no child is unteachable. This raises him above the rest and I have never met an individual in this field who can match him.

Upon hearing of the award John  commented:

I am completely shocked and humbled to have received this honour. It’s been a privilege to work with so many great colleagues and pupils during my career, and this award would not have been possible without them. I would also like to thank my wife Linda, and children Thomas and David, for their unwavering support and encouragement throughout my career.