Two North Devonians who have devoted their careers to education have been named in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.

Sandy Brown served as a teacher for 33 years including as head of Woolacombe and still works as a national leader of education. Picture: Sandy BrownSandy Brown served as a teacher for 33 years including as head of Woolacombe and still works as a national leader of education. Picture: Sandy Brown

Sandy Brown from Barnstaple has been named an OBE while Janice Lever from Milton Damerel near Holsworthy has received an MBE – both for services to education.

The honours list would normally be published in June but was postponed this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Mrs Brown, aged 70, is well known as the headteacher of Woolacombe School and executive headteacher of the South West Schools Federation, which includes Combe Martin and Bampton, before she retired in 2017.

But she still plays an active role and is a national leader of education, a title given to outstanding headteachers who use their experience to support schools.

Jan Lever, founder of Jigsaw PSHE and with a 40 year career in education, has been named an MBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours 2020. Picture: Jan LeverJan Lever, founder of Jigsaw PSHE and with a 40 year career in education, has been named an MBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours 2020. Picture: Jan Lever

She said: “I am so honoured to have been awarded an OBE and feel humbled to have even been considered.

“Education is my passion. Children have only one chance and therefore deserve the best at all times.

“It was through education and a teacher’s belief in me that changed my life and gave me a career that I adore.

“I had a deprived free school meal background and during my primary years also huge family bereavement. This gave me the determination to try and make a difference to the lives of children and a vision for excellence.

“I have been so lucky to have lived my dream through education which I would never have been able to do without the support of my fantastic family of boys and husband.

“They always supported me alongside my work colleagues, parents, friends and most importantly, the children I have taught and led.

Ms Lever, aged 61, qualified as a primary teacher in 1981 and taught for 16 years, from early years to A-level, including running a pre-school in America.

She went on to work as an education advisor for RE, PSHE and School Improvement for the Borough of Poole in Dorset for a decade before writing the Jigsaw Programmes.

As a teacher, education adviser and qualified counsellor and psychotherapist, Ms Lever says she is passionate about improving children’s life chances by supporting their mental health and learning.

Her long career in education and counselling led her to bring her experience together into a new teaching programme (Jigsaw, the mindful approach to PSHE for ages three to 16) and Discovery RE (a primary Religious Education Programme).

Jigsaw PSHE is currently used by some 5,000 schools, reaching more than two million children across the UK and internationally in 30-plus countries.

She said: “I am delighted to receive this acknowledgement of 40 years’ work in education and also to gain the recognition for Jigsaw PSHE and its impact on children’s and young people’s mental health”.

“I am humbled and honoured to receive an MBE. I am grateful to my family for working with me to make the Jigsaw vision a reality, to my daughter for her inspiration, and to all the people I have learnt from and who have trusted and supported my work over the years.

“There are so many amazing, dedicated people in education, working tirelessly for children’s benefit, and I consider myself very fortunate to be having such a varied and rich career amongst them. I would like to acknowledge all their hard work with this award.”