Passionate, principled and focused on real teachers' lives

12th September 2003 at 01:00
Fellow journalists and academics recalled a woman whose love and enthusiasm for her subject survived more than two decades in the often bruising newspaper trade, and remained undiminished by serious illness.

They praised her determination to bring a human aspect to the paper's coverage of education, ensuring that teachers' working lives were featured prominently alongside policy debates.

Patricia Rowan, Caroline's predecessor in the editor's chair, described her as the perfect choice. "It wasn't just the doctorate in education, her record in journalism and the international experience. What made her outstanding was her passionate commitment on political, social and educational issues and the steeliness to stick by her principles on her own children's education, and everything else.

"Personally warm and vivacious, she was also ready to take hard professional decisions. And she could write like a dream. Writing about education easily gets bogged down in the same old ideas and anecdotes, but Caroline's insights were always fresh and direct and a joy to read."

Estelle Morris, arts minister and former education secretary, said: "When I was with Caroline I often forgot she was a journalist and thought she was an educationist, and that's a compliment! Her analysis was succinct and sharp; her bravery with ideas is a lesson to other journalists; her love of her subject shone through.

"She was a good, decent person, honest and trustworthy."

David Blunkett, education sectretary during Caroline's tenure at the paper said, "Those of us who had the privilege of being acquainted with Caroline will be saddened by her death. She commanded respect and affection in equal measure, and demonstrated her own courage in taking on an enormous challenge while fighting illness. She will be missed."

Professor Kathryn Riley, now working as an education consultant, was a close friend and neighbour in Greenwich, south London. She praised Caroline's "capacity to explore education issues without preconceptions, with incredible rigour and passion and humour".

Another neighbour and friend, John Bangs, head of education with the National Union of Teachers, said she was committed both to the local community, and to the principle of comprehensive education, sending her children to local schools. Her professional interests, he said, were always grounded in research. "She recognised news values but bought serious debate about the evidence too."

Peter Mortimore, former director of London University's Institute of Education and a friend, said: "I met Caroline 23 years ago when she was education correspondent for New Society and I was working for ILEA. I was delighted when she was appointed editor of The TES. Caroline was a natural for the paper.

"Her comments were unfailingly intelligent and she was quick to identify the strengths and weakness of arguments. The excitement she felt for ideas likely to help teachers and pupils was tangible. She contributed much to the education community and we will miss her greatly."

His successor as director, Geoff Whitty, said: "I first knew Caroline as a sociologist of education. She had an ability to traverse both worlds, so I was delighted when she became a visiting professor here at the institute. I hope that we will be able to follow through some of the work she was planning right up until her death."

Professor Fred Inglis supervised her PhD on approaches to English teaching at Bristol University. He said: "Even when she was rattled she was such a steady woman. She kept steadfast faith with the best principles of social democracy and never wavered."

David Lipsey, now Lord Lipsey of Tooting Bec and chairman of the Social Market Foundation, was a colleague on New Society magazine and The Sunday Times. "She was the same as a journalist as she was as a person: totally committed and, unusually for a journalist, totally non-cynical," he said.

"She was as enthusiastic about her subject and life in general after more than 30 years as at the beginning. Everyone who worked with her had the greatest respect and love for her. She had a genius for friendship."

She is also remembered fondly at the OECD, where she spent three years as a researcher and administrator.

Tom Alexander, a senior education fellow at Oxford University's department of education, and a former director for education, employment and social policy at the Paris-based organisation, praised her ability to get the organisation message over.

Donald Hirsch worked with Caroline as a freelance consultant to the OECD, and helped recruit her. "People often think that journalists take short cuts. But Caroline was thorough and professional," he said. "She had an infectious interest in education. What struck me was her great enthusiasm and professional diligence."

David Istance, of the centre for educational research and innovation at the OECD, called her a treasured colleague and friend.

Philippa Cordingley, chief executive of the centre for the use of research and evidence in education, Coventry, said: "Caroline will be sadly missed in the British American Project.

"Her telling combination of passion for justice and clear-sighted analysis time and again moved our efforts at transatlantic understanding forward."

James MacManus, managing director of TSL education, The TES's parent company, said: "Caroline brought great warmth and wisdom to the editorship of The TES. She was a marvellous colleague who cared passionately about the title and the world it served. She was devoted to the staff who worked so hard for her.

"In her three years at the helm she modernised the paper, sharpened its content and increased its appeal. Her passion for the job and her intellect were matched by a kind and gentle spirit."

Phil Willis, Liberal Democrat education spokesman, said: "In these days, when some journalism is ephemeral, Caroline's writing, based as it was on conviction and understanding, and written in a style that was accessible to everyone, will stand as a fitting memorial. She will be sadly missed."

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today