The head of a Stourbridge school helping disaffected children from across Dudley has talked of her pride and shock at being awarded an MBE.

Janet Lear, Head of the Black Country Wheels School, calls it ‘a collective MBE’ because she could not have done it without the teams she has worked with over the years.

“It was a shock and a great honour.”

The school, based on the Gainsborough trading estate, takes children aged 14 to 16 who have become ‘disengaged’ with mainstream schooling and offers them special learning and support to help turn their lives around.

Jan’s award is for services to education, having set up the Wheels Project in 1999 which then evolved into a school which went independent in 2011.

It takes referrals from schools and placements from the local authority of pupils who have been permanently excluded.

Jan has dealt with thousands of young people over the years and has seen many struggling youngsters get ‘back on track.’

Two are now members of staff at the school, some have gone on to set up their own businesses, some are managers of other firms, and Jan recalls one went on to become an assistant for a competitor in the Paralympics.

The former social worker says the school’s motto is Putting Young People First. They are listened to and helped to realise their potential.

The school is currently shut in the lockdown, but online teaching continues and special arrangements are made to ensure the vocational courses can be completed, with special workshops arra nged for pupils wearing full protective equipment.

The school’s outcomes are ranked as Outstanding by Ofsted, but apart from the national qualifications the children achieve Jan measures success by the way the young people ‘turn their lives around to become the food citizens of the future.’

The 72-year-old, who has no office because she works constantly with the pupils, measures her own work by the saying: “If I finish work and I don’t feel exhausted then I don’t feel I have done my job properly.”