John Oakes awarded OBE in Queen's 2022 Honours List
John Oakes, our recently retired Headmaster, was awarded the OBE in the Queen’s 2022 Honours List, for services to Education. We are enormously proud that he has been recognised for his hard work and the success he brought to Dartford Grammar School, especially as it is so rare that such an honour is bestowed on a Headmaster.
John Oakes took over as Headmaster in 2009 at a pivotal moment in the history of Dartford Grammar School. It was the moment when the IB Diploma became the only offering in the sixth form, and it was also the moment when seeds were sown for making the wider IB curriculum available to students in the lower years. John had a very clear vision aligned to the IB principles: he wanted students to benefit from a broad curriculum, and he wanted to ensure that the school offered the students the widest range of co-curricular activities which would not only inculcate in them an enjoyment of doing well, but also instil in them the appreciation of other people’s talents and successes.
John worked with the IB Schools and Colleges Association to ensure that the school was at the forefront of the IB Diploma in this country. He also enabled the school to maintain its focus on Languages, developing the school as a Confucius Classroom and as part of the Sakura Network. John forged links with schools in China and Japan, and he determined that all students should have the chance to visit the country of their European language in Year 9. He also spearheaded the partnership with the Institute of Education on the Mandarin Excellence Programme and ensured that a similar programme was available for students learning Japanese.
John also ensured that students and staff had a school fit for twenty-first century learning. Successful funding bids led to the building of new science facilities, the development of expressive arts facilities in the Mick Jagger Centre and the creation of state-of-the-art study facilities for sixth form students – John was enormously creative and forward-thinking in his transformation of space.
In his last eighteen months at the helm, the school benefitted greatly from John’s calm approach as he steered the ship through Covid waters, with students, parents and staff appreciating his measured and up-beat approach in troubled times.
John Oakes, OBE, commented: ‘I am both thrilled and humbled to have been awarded the honour of OBE in Her Majesty’s 2022 New Year’s Honours List. This Honour is, of course, a reflection of the work of so many dedicated and ambitious professionals, particularly the people I have worked with at Dartford Grammar School. Together we have ‘strived valiantly’ to secure the best life chances for many thousands of young people at home and abroad and I am indebted to them. I am proud of Dartford Grammar School’s national reputation for educational collaboration, extra-curricular successes in The Arts and Sport, and high academic excellence combined with a global reputation for international education and the teaching of Languages.
I was also fortunate to have been guided by two outstanding individuals at pivotal moments: at the start of my career in 1978, by an exceptional Headteacher at my previous school, Mr Brian Phythian and, since 2009, by the wisdom of an equally exceptional Chair of Governors at DGS, Mrs Cynthia Jacobs.’
Note: OBE stands for Officer of the Order of the British Empire, and is the second highest ranking in the Order of the British Empire awards, behind CBE (Commander of the British Empire) and ahead of MBE (Member of the British Empire). It is awarded to someone for making a great impact in their line of work.