A “wonderful” teacher of more than 40 years and much-loved member of the Sutton Coldfield community has been awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for her service to vulnerable young people and families in the West Midlands.
Sue Bailey is described as the “beating heart” of Arthur Terry School, and the assistant headteacher and PE teacher is now in her fifth decade at the outstanding academy and works as the Arthur Terry Learning Partnership’s (ATLP) safeguarding lead.
Many families have benefitted from Sue’s role as strategic lead for the Sutton Coldfield Children’s Centres and her work with young people at Four Oaks Youth. Sue has been involved with Sutton Coldfield Municipal charities for 20 years and works with other charity and voluntary organisations to improve the lives of others.
Sue, who has met the Duke of Edinburgh several times, is overjoyed that her work has now been recognised by the Queen.
She said: “I’m truly delighted and humbled by this honour. It means so much to me to be able to support young people and their families – this is the most rewarding vocation in the world. But this is a team effort and I have been fortunate to have been surrounded by the very best people over the years, who make such a difference to the lives of so many.”
As a teacher of 42 years, Sue has dedicated her longstanding career to the educational, social and emotional welfare of children. Outside of the classroom she is involved in a number of extra-curricular activities that enrich the lives of students. Sue is a gold Duke of Edinburgh Award holder and the recipient of a long service award from the organisation. Last year, Sue was invited to Buckingham palace to celebrate Arthur Terry School’s 20-year involvement with the Outward Bound Trust.
As part of her school and Outward Bound Trust work, she has led a number of trips to South Africa. In 2016 Sue was among a group who were airside following Istanbul’s military coup. Her priority was to ensure the safety of all and to secure their safe return.
Sue’s priority is the safety and protection of young people. She works across ATLP schools, other schools and organisations and Birmingham City Council, to ensure that Prevent and safeguarding training is delivered across the region.
She said: “It’s our duty to care for young people and safeguarding is everybody’s responsibility. There’s more to do and this is what drives us to achieve more, because children will always remain at the heart of our work.”
Neil Warner, executive headteacher of Arthur Terry School and ATLP school improvement lead (secondary), said: “We are all thrilled and incredibly proud that Sue Bailey has been recognised at this level. Sue is the beating heart of Arthur Terry. She enjoys planning and delivering lessons 40 plus years since joining us, and has helped to transform so many lives.
“We praise her outstanding contribution to safeguarding, child protection, internet safety and the Prevent agenda and her tireless work to ensure our young people are well cared for. We are privileged to have such a wonderful teacher.”
Those who know Sue will appreciate all that she gives to school life. She is a prominent PTA member, fundraising and organising the school show annually. She also plays a key role in governance at Arthur Terry and other schools, including Walsall’s Blue Coat School. Every year Sue co-ordinates various events for seven local primary schools to help children prepare for secondary school.
Samantha Kibble, associate headteacher of Arthur Terry School, said: “I’m absolutely delighted that Sue has been awarded an MBE. She is totally committed to improving the life chances for everyone that she works with and Sue has made a real difference across all aspects of her work. She fully deserved to be recognised for everything she has achieved and we’re very proud that we have been able to work alongside Sue at the Arthur Terry School as part of the Arthur Terry Learning Partnership.”
Last year, Sue received a Royal Sutton Coldfield Community Award for her services to the community and is a respected and popular leader in the town.
Richard Gill, CEO of the ATLP, said: “Sue has impacted so positively on the lives of so many. She has given tirelessly for the benefit of others. There is no one more deserving to be recognised in such a way. Sue is typically embarrassed and quick to deflect to others around her who have supported her. But every team needs a leader. Sue is more than this; she is an inspiration. I am so proud to be able to call her a colleague and a friend.”
Former ATLP CEO, Sir Chris Stone, said: “There are some people you know are so deserving of being a recipient of such an honour. Susan Bailey is one of these. She is, quite frankly, remarkable; one of a kind. Sue has an aura about her; she makes things happen for the benefit of others. She is tireless and tenacious in equal measure and the world is a far better place for having her in it. Everyone who knows Sue Bailey, and her selfless work for others, will be delighted that she has been recognised.”
Born in Sutton Coldfield, Sue was raised in the Falcon Lodge area of the town and attended Fairfax School. After completing her training, Sue joined Arthur Terry School in 1976 as a PE teacher. It was here that she met her husband, fellow PE teacher Colin Bailey, who retired from the school last year. The pair have two children and one grandchild and remain a respected and popular part of the wider community.
Sue has taught thousands of students over the years, including some famous faces, such as TV’s Rasmus Hardiker and James and Oliver Phelps (also known as the Weasley Twins in the Harry Potter films). Sue’s friend, Tracey Spare, was Arthur Terry head boy in 1979 and recalls his former teacher fondly.
He said: “Sue Bailey was always approachable, always prepared to listen, always prepared to share a laugh and a joke, but she also reminded you, quite correctly and when necessary, she was the teacher and you were the student.
He added: “Sue is a highly respected member of the community and acknowledged by those who work with her, alongside her and in partnership with her, as a dependable and very loyal person.
“Friends and work colleagues have relayed many stories to me of Sue’s support of young people, particularly in non-curricula environments. Students struggling with emotional conflicts; students living with addictions of a varying nature; students who simply did not want to attend school; students with home environmental troubles – light years away from teaching PE on a wet, miserable Monday morning!
“When I first met Sue Bailey in 1976, she was a PE teacher at my school. Forty years on, it’s a privilege to call Sue Bailey my friend.”
MP Andrew Mitchell said: “Sue’s award is richly deserved. She’s one of our greatest assets in the Royal Town and has worked ceaselessly for the benefit of local people throughout the 18 years I have known her. Whether as part of Arthur Terry or with local children’s support in the wider community she has been a tower of strength and much loved and respected by everyone. Hooray!”