Obituary - Arthur Hayward, 1922-2010

2nd July 2010 at 01:00

Rules were pointless, blazers equally so, and every pupil should learn to swim. As educational visions go, Arthur Hayward's was certainly distinctive. But it also enabled him to establish and run two successful secondary schools.

Born in Bristol in 1922, he was the son of a market gardener. The first in his family to go on to higher education, he took a degree in physics at Bristol University.

By the time he graduated, the Second World War had begun. He enlisted immediately, training as a radar technician. It was while in the Army that he met Sadie Hoffmann, an anti-aircraft gunlayer. They met in a pub; Sadie held the higher rank, and responded to his insubordinate advances by pouring beer over his head.

The relationship could only improve after this, and the couple married in 1945. When the war ended, they moved to Manchester, where Sadie's parents lived, and Mr Hayward trained as a teacher at Manchester Grammar School.

Two years later, he, Sadie and their one-year-old son, Michael, returned to Bristol, where Mr Hayward took up a post at Bristol Grammar. That year, a second son, Peter, was born.

He moved swiftly between jobs: his sons had lived in five different locations by the time they started at secondary school. But Mr Hayward was ambitious, and this was what had to be done in order to move up the professional ladder.

By 1959, he had been given his first headship. Unfortunately, there was no school attached: when Mr Hayward was appointed, Cavendish School had no buildings, teachers or pupils. So it was for the new head to design the Hemel Hempstead technical high according to his own vision. It was a vision that turned out to be somewhat idiosyncratic. He insisted there should be an indoor swimming pool on site. All children, he told the local authority, should leave the school able to swim - it might save their lives one day.

He believed that enthusiasm for the subject was a teacher's principal strength, and recruited a series of industry professionals with no classroom experience at all. And he provided lessons in Russian and Chinese - measures unheard of in the state-school system at the time.

He was not afraid to challenge convention and dispensed with the rule book. Cavendish operated with a single rule: if it's stupid, don't do it. Yet he was a firm disciplinarian. He prided himself on knowing every pupil's name and could stop miscreants in their tracks by hollering at them from the other side of the rugby pitch. (When the Cavendish roll reached 900, he was unable to remember the names of all new first years. This was a moment of great personal sadness.)

He opted to abolish school blazers, the most expensive part of any uniform. Instead, all new Cavendish pupils spent their first handicraft lesson making a pencil box, so that they no longer needed a blazer pocket in which to keep their pens.

Despite his often controversial decisions, he was not a divisive figure. He was not afraid to criticise his local authority, but would always do so quietly and tactfully. And he was unfailingly loyal to his staff, inspiring equal loyalty in return.

In 1971, he and Sadie decided to move again, this time to Cornwall. Mr Hayward relished new challenges and could not resist the opportunity to oversee the merger of two Bodmin secondaries. Once again, he was essentially creating a new school: he wanted to renew as much as possible, to avoid inevitable harking back to good old days.

The circumstances were fortuitous: his mother's family was from the West Country, where he had hoped to retire. He loved the sea, and quickly established a family tradition of spending Boxing Day playing Poohsticks by the windswept coast.

In 1984, he retired from Bodmin College. He had been a longstanding Rotarian, and retirement enabled him to become district governor for Cornwall and West Devon. He used this position to set up a local youth leadership scheme, which has since spread to Rotary clubs across the country.

It was shortly before his 87th birthday when the first signs of his lung cancer appeared. Arthur Hayward died at home, on June 6, with his two sons at his side.

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