Mansfield education champion awarded MBE in New Year's Honours list
A Mansfield education chief who helped found a vital service in the town is to be made an MBE in the annual New Year’s Honours list.
Brian Smith helped create the R.E.A.L. Education group, an organisation based at King’s Mill House which aims to “reengage young people with education” across Mansfield, Nottingham and the wider Nottinghamshire county.
From an early age, Brian had a passion for education and learning, and as his career evolved he was gradually drawn towards teaching and the opportunity to enhance the life chances for children, young people and their families.
After qualifying as a mainstream teacher, Brian quickly developed an understanding and passion for working with pupils with additional needs, and it was this passion and insight that quickly saw him develop into an “outstanding and innovative” teacher.
This vision and enthusiasm saw him move to Nottinghamshire and develop his skills through a number of roles and teams.
During this time he saw a steady increase in the number of students being identified and diagnosed with additional learning needs, and it was this recognition alongside the encouragement and enthusiasm of his son Richard that lead to the creation of R.E.A.L. Education.
Brian announced in mid-December that he would be stepping down from his role after 11 years, and in recognition of his work he has been made a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for his services to young people with special educational needs.
The 64-year-old from Teversal said: "It's a complete surprise and I am really taken aback. It's a massive honour.
"I set up R.E.A.L. Education in 2008 because I wanted to help make a difference, not just to the young people's lives but to their family's lives as well and the impact we can have on them long term.
"Over the last 10 years or so we've built a fabulous team of people. I think we have helped around 4,000 young people.
"Academies and schools do a fantastic job but there are always those who fall through the net.
"When we set REAL Education up it was so we did not turn our back on anyone. We initially started out in Nottinghamshire but have expanded it to all of the East Midlands now.
"I have given talks across the whole country on it. It was set up as a family business and that always resonated with me in keeping that feel no matter how many people we employ or help.
"I always say to young people to do something they will enjoy and love. I have done that myself."