Educators have paid tribute to leading head Bernice McCabe, who has died following a year-long battle with brain cancer.
Ms McCabe, who led North London Collegiate School (NLCS) for two decades, died on Monday, having been diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumour shortly after stepping down from her role.
She was also instrumental in setting up the Prince’s Teaching Institute, now known as the PTI, and was made an OBE for her services to education last year.
“Bernice was an inspiring educationalist, whose interests and energies were manifold,” said Sarah Clark, the current head of NLCS, a private school in Edgware in the capital.
“Bernice’s legacy will continue at the school. She was committed to providing educational opportunities for children who otherwise would not have been able to afford them here at school.
“Bernice McCabe was an extraordinary leader, and a wonderful friend and colleague. She will be deeply missed.”
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Chris Pope, who co-directed the PTI with Ms McCabe, said “the country has lost one of its greatest educationalists”.
“She believed passionately that every child, whatever their background or ability, deserved an excellent education,” he said.
“From her long experience in teaching, she came to understand that this means having schools where every teacher is passionate and knowledgeable about the subject they teach, and that through their skill as empowered professionals. they would pass on this love of subject to their students.”
PTI chairman Keith Breslauer added: "The world has lost a bright light."
Bernice McCabe, fabulous-haired head of North London Collegiate School for 20 years, died today aged 65. She expected 11-year olds to step up and talk confidently to anyone and everyone, and so they did, and do. A fine example of her advice: ‘Just go out and be wonderful.’— Beatrice Hollyer (@BeatriceHollyer) February 18, 2019
Very sad to hear this about my former headteacher at @CCHS4G, Bernice McCabe. She was an inspiration! Most of all to me, she recognised that the shy, quiet 11 yr old I was had the potential to speak up & lead. I’ll always be grateful for the confidence she gave me. RIP 💜 https://t.co/w0oYRNf39s— Dr Rageshri Dhairyawan (@crageshri) February 18, 2019
Ms McCabe started her career in her hometown of Bristol, before becoming headteacher of Chelmsford County High School in 1990 and then joining NLCS seven years later.
There, she strove to enrich the school’s curriculum and instil her pupils with a love for their subjects. She also oversaw the school’s international expansion, opening a campus in South Korea in 2011 and another in Dubai in 2017.
In 2002, Ms McCabe led the first Prince of Wales Education Summer School, which offers state school teachers the chance to hear from world-renowned experts in their fields.
Four years later, this grew into the Prince’s Teaching Institute and, by 2016, 14 per cent of all secondaries in England and Wales had sent a teachers on its course.
Ms McCabe spoke openly of her struggle against grade 4 glioblastoma, the most common and aggressive type of brain tumour, after she was diagnosed last year.
She was made an OBE in the New Year’s Honours list and was well enough to receive it from Prince Charles at Buckingham Palace last June.
“I have never shed a tear or felt the slightest bit of anger about what has happened to me. What is the point? These few months that I have had are priceless,” she said in an interview shortly after.
“I want to show them that it’s possible to fight a good battle against cancer. A lot of people feel that the treatment is utterly terrifying and appalling. I have not found that to be so.”
NLCS is starting an online book of condolences. Anyone wanting to contribute can fill in the form found here.
Very sad to hear of the death today of Bernice McCabe, educationist and human dynamo.— David Aaronovitch (@DAaronovitch) February 18, 2019
Very sorry to hear of the passing of Bernice McCabe the brilliant leader @NLCS1850 and an inspiring educationalist. So sad with so much life still to enjoy— David Carter (@Carter6D) February 19, 2019
Deeply saddened to hear about the passing of Bernice McCabe, former headmistress of @CCHS4G when I was there, at the tender age of 65. Such an elegant, beautiful and determined woman and what a headteacher she was! An inspiration for my sister and I. RIP xxx— Salwa Malik💙 (@drsalwamalik) February 19, 2019