Hucknall schools' chief is flying high after earning OBE for his work

Chris Wheatley, boss of the Flying High Trust, who has been awarded the OBE. (PHOTO BY: Louise Brimble).
Chris Wheatley, boss of the Flying High Trust, who has been awarded the OBE. (PHOTO BY: Louise Brimble).

The boss of the trust that runs Hucknall’s newest school has been awarded the OBE for services to education.

Chris Wheatley, 47, is the chief executive officer of the Flying High Trust, which was founded in 2012 and now oversees a stable of 26 schools in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire.

These schools include the Flying High Academy, which serves the new housing development at Rolls-Royce, off Watnall Road, and also Hucknall’s Hillside Primary.

During Chris’s leadership, the trust has won many accolades, including being recognised as one of the top five in the country for the teaching of writing to disadvantaged children.

Of the 26 Flying High schools, all have improved their Ofsted ratings since joining the trust, and all are now ranked good or better.

Chris, a former award-winning head teacher who lives in West Bridgford, has 25 years’ experience in education.

Of his OBE, he said: “I am excited but also humbled. It is recognition of what the trust has achieved as a whole, not just me. This is for all the staff and children too.

“We mark our success as the children achieving their dreams. I want to support our children and help them realise their ambition to be a success and to make a positive contribution to society. We also view success as breaking down social barriers which might impede opportunity.”

Chris’s upbringing in Middlesbrough, and even listening to The Smiths’ song, ‘The Headmaster Ritual, as a 13-year-old, tempted him to work in education.

He said: “I witnessed the imbalance of opportunity and how the aspirations of young people depended on their backgrounds. I wanted them to succeed regardless of their backgrounds, and that still drives me.”

Chris revealed that news of his OBE had led to a few of his work colleagues pulling his leg and bowing and curtsying in front of him!

But his first thoughts were of his late grandparents. He explained: “They were massive royalists and, from a young age, they told me that to receive an honour from the Queen was the highest achievement and something to aim for.

“I never expected it to happen to me, and it’s so sad they can’t witness it. It would have meant to much to them.”