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Charles Dickens headteacher is "genius" says Jamie Oliver

Liz Owens is "nothing short of a genius", said TV chef Jamie Oliver of the Charles Dickens Primary School headteacher, who was named 'teacher of the year' at the Pride of Britain Awards this week.

Long before Jamie Oliver's TV campaign Liz Owens had been working to cut out processed food from the menu at the Lant Street primary school in a bid to improve results in the classroom. Locally sourced organic meat and vegetables are now the order of the day; and pupils' attainment has soared.

"What she has done is brilliant," added Jamie Oliver. "If every headteacher could do this, which they can, our schools would be all the better for it."

The headteacher – who has been at the school since 1998 – was joined on stage by 15 of her pupils at this week's awards ceremony at the South Bank's London Television Centre. She said: "I am in awesome company. I feel really proud to be here and proud of what has been achieved at the school."

The Pride of Britain Awards ceremony – sponsored by the Daily Mirror and British Gas – was attended by the prime minister Tony Blair.

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