Champion of comprehensives

27th April 2007 at 01:00
Anne Jarvis and her husband, Fred, were, for more than 50 years, a partnership -devoted, above all else outside their family, to the improvement of education in this country.

Fred, a former general secretary of the National Union of Teachers and Trades Union Congress president, was the name that teachers remembered. But Anne, who died last week, aged 77, was equally devoted to the cause and, in her own right, a major figure in the progress of British education.

After Oxford - where she read politics, economics and philosophy and met Fred -she became a research fellow at Reading University. A period of social research followed. But education called.

For 30 years she taught at Northside primary school in Finchley, north London. She became president of the NUT's Barnet branch and was a well-known figure at the union's conferences. She is remembered as an "independent voice", even when the platform's policy was advanced by her husband.

On retirement, she was persuaded, with some difficulty, to stand for election to Barnet borough council. It was a good year for the Labour party. Anne found herself a member of the majority group. She was chair of the council's education committee for seven years and, in 2001, became chair of the Association of London Government's education panel.

When Labour lost control of Barnet in 2002, it did not cool her reforming zeal. Until her death she stayed a member of the Campaign for State Education executive.

Her death has robbed comprehensive education of one of its most valiant champions and education of a devoted friend. Her children - Jacky and Robin -will share Fred's pride in her achievement. And thousands of children will be better for her service to education.

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