CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

I’m in favour of renaming the school Beryl Gilroy

02 July, 2020

Beryl Gilroy teaching at Beckford School

• I AM writing to give my strong support to the renaming of Beckford school in West Hampstead to Beryl Gilroy School, (Campaign to rename slave link school after its pioneering black headteacher, June 19).

I had the privilege of being appointed as the first black female head teacher in Britain in December 1968 to Ring Cross Infants school in Islington, and took up my post in January 1969.

I had the pleasure of meeting Beryl Gilroy who was then the deputy head teacher of neighbouring Montem infant school.

I was delighted when later in 1969 she was appointed to the headship of Beckford infant school; and afterwards to the headship of the whole school on its amalgamation, following the retirement of Miss Abel, head of the junior school.

Between 1976 and 1980 I worked with Mrs Gilroy in my role as ILEA inspector for multi-ethnic education, and as primary inspector from 1980.

Mrs Gilroy was undoubtedly passionate about the positive role that education could play in changing the lives of children at Beckford.

She had high expectations of all the pupils irrespective of their backgrounds, ethnicity, or circumstances and she used her love of books and reading as a catalyst for motivating the children’s learning. She herself was an avid learner who pursued further study after retiring from Beckford.

The children’s books she wrote reflected and promoted the reality of our diverse society with equality as a key requisite.

I feel confident that there are many former pupils of Beckford Primary School during Mrs Gilroy’s headship who can still remember how they benefited from the educational experience she provided for them.

It gives me great pleasure to support the proposal to rename Beckford school to Beryl Gilroy school in recognition of the long and excellent contribution she made to the lives and education of many children.

YVONNE CONOLLY
Bracey Street, N4

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