‘Head teacher had a love of learn­ing’

Trib­utes to ‘schol­arly’ man who died, 84

Harefield Gazette - - NEWS - By Alan Hayes alan.hayes@trin­i­tymir­ror.com

A COM­MEM­O­RA­TION ser­vice has taken place for a for­mer head teacher of Bish­op­shalt School.

Dr Leslie Bather died at his home in Iver on Mon­day, Septem­ber 8 at the age of 84.

For­mer Bish­op­shalt teacher and lo­cal his­to­rian, Ken Pearce, gave the ad­dress.

He told the con­gre­ga­tion at Dr Bather’s re­quiem in St Mar­garet’s Church, Church Road, Iver Heath, on Fri­day, Septem­ber 26 how the ac­com­plished ed­u­ca­tor had been born in The Wir­ral, mov­ing to Ox­ford then Plymp­ton in Devon be­cause of his fa­ther’s work.

An able pupil, he later stud­ied at the Univer­sity of Wales, then Univer­sity of London In­sti­tute of Ed­u­ca­tion be­fore tak­ing his PhD at Manch­ester Univer­sity.

After two years in the Army ed­u­ca­tion corps, largely spent in Ger­many while on Na­tional Ser­vice, Dr Bather started his teach­ing ca­reer in London at St Cle­ment Danes Gram­mar School.

While there, he pro­duced a his­tory book on the Bri­tish con­sti­tu­tion with a col­league. It even­tu­ally ran to five edi­tions.

A stint at Christ’s Col­lege in Finch­ley fol­lowed where among his pupils was the fu­ture Chief Rabbi, Jonathan Sachs.

In 1970, Dr Bather was given the head­ship of Bish­op­shalt, in Royal Lane, Hilling­don.

“We thought: ‘What’s this man go­ing to be like?’” said Mr Pearce.

“He ap­peared to be a quiet and shy bach­e­lor, who didn’t drive a car and who for the first time in his teach­ing ca­reer was about to meet a mys­te­ri­ous phe­nom­e­non – girls! There was no prob­lem. He stayed for 26 years.”

Dr Bather over­saw the tran­si­tion of Bish­op­shalt from gram­mar to com­pre­hen­sive school, in­clud­ing ex­ten­sions to school build­ings, and then the move to grant main­tained sta­tus in 1990.

Bish­op­shalt was a pi­o­neer of this free­dom from lo­cal au­thor­ity con­trol and as a re­sult Dr Bather was in­ter­viewed a num­ber of times on tele­vi­sion and was in­vited to a Down­ing Street re­cep­tion by the then prime min­is­ter, John Ma­jor.

A great tri­umph, said Mr Pearce, was the sav­ing and restora­tion of a di­lap­i­dated Vic­to­rian con­ser­va­tory in the school grounds, as­sisted by a let­ter from poet lau­re­ate Sir John Bet­je­man.

An ex­ten­sion to the school mu­sic block is named in Dr Bather’s hon­our.

He also served on the Parochial Church Coun­cil for the Iver area and as a church war­den of St Mar­garet’s for 10 years.

Dr Bather was a Fel­low of the Royal So­ci­ety of Arts, Ec­cle­si­o­log­i­cal So­ci­ety, Na­tional Trust and Cam­paign to Pro­tect Ru­ral Eng­land.

Mr Pearce said: “One for­mer pupil has re­cently de­scribed him as ‘schol­arly’, and I would agree with that. He had a love of learn­ing; he was a per­pet­ual stu­dent.

“It is no ac­ci­dent that the slo­gan of Bish­op­shalt School be­came: ‘Above all else a place of learn­ing’.”

Were you a pupil of Dr Bather’s? If you would like to pay trib­ute, see page 15 for ways to get in touch, or go to www.face­book.com/ uxbridgegazette

■ COM­MEM­O­RA­TION: For­mer head teacher Dr Leslie Bather

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