Patchwork Pioneers

Last week was a wonderful week of story-gathering. I met the Nottingham Playgoers, The Patch-workers in Arnold, and contributors at St Peter’s Community Market in Mansfield. The stories have been fabulous, and several have gone straight in to the play. By pure serendipity, Saturday at St Peter’s was all about inspiring female educators, with stories about Miss Lack, a pioneering headmistress, Mrs Hoyland, a great cookery teacher, and Mrs Jones, a nurturing drama specialist. Below is a sample of the stories donated.

Geraldine Lack, CBE, was Headmistress at Rosebery School in Epsom, which is where Marion, who gave us her story, was a pupil. Prior to her role there, however, Miss Lack had by coincidence, been Head of English at Nottingham High School. She was a noted educational pioneer, insisting, as her obituary in The Times stated, “that the opening of pupils’ minds, the widening of their intellectual horizons and the enriching of their values and tastes were of far greater importance than amassing A-level results”. In other words, she advocated investing in their futures, rather than simply ensuring they contributed to school and government targets.

Marion said she was totally inspirational, and most of the girls in her sixth-form went on to university. As a child, Geraldine Lack and her Australian missionary parents had survived the Boxer Rebellion in China. She would tell her pupils “from those to whom much is given much is required.” (Luke 12. 48). She was on the 1966-69 Royal Commission on Local Government and numerous major committees on education. The Times says “She chaired meetings as she drover her car: erratic yet fast, reacting incredibly quickly to obstacles and arriving at a destination which only she regarded as a foregone conclusion.” I wish I could have met her. 


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