Anthony Hoskyns obituary

Other Lives: Innovative physics teacher who helped to set up centres for disadvantaged young people in inner cities

My brother, Anthony Hoskyns, who has died aged 88, was an imaginative physics teacher who, in the early 1980s, founded the Notting Dale Technology Centre, which provided innovative courses on information technology for disadvantaged young adults in inner London. The centre was so successful that the government provided money to create 80 similar centres across the country, which Anthony and his colleagues were involved in setting up.

Anthony was born in Cambridge, the fourth son of two academics, Sir Edwyn Hoskyns, a theologian, and Mary Budden, a mathematician. He left King’s college choir school and Marlborough college with few academic qualifications, but had nonetheless managed to nurture his natural talent for music and become a skilled piano player.

On national service as an army officer in Korea he was shocked by the soldiers’ lack of appropriate training and the often incoherent orders given by senior officers, which risked lives. He became a source for the Guardian at the end of the Korean war about the state of operations in Korea, and three of his dispatches were published anonymously by the newspaper in 1954. His words had considerable impact and he later addressed a packed meeting in parliament about his experiences.

Once demobbed, he trained as a teacher and in 1958 married Katharine Kaldor, a primary and special needs teacher. Their generosity and kindness created a hub of support and fun from which many benefited.

From 1961 Anthony taught physics at Holland Park school in west London and in 1967 he became head of physics at Sir William Collins school in north London, where he adopted the Nuffield physics curriculum and enhanced this with practical activities, including a student-run disco and radio-controlled model car racing. His unorthodox approach aroused hostility from some senior colleagues, leading to failed attempts to dismiss him. In 1979 he was offered a “compulsory sabbatical” on full pay, and never went back.

Two years later he founded the Notting Dale Technology Centre, and then a similar venture, the London New Technology Network. But when that succumbed to funding cuts he returned to work at Notting Dale until he retired in 2002.

Anthony was a lifelong supporter of Arsenal, and of the Labour party, and he regularly went to Nicaragua, where his son, Nicky, worked in the cooperative movement. Something of a natural rebel, he worked throughout his life to improve opportunities for the underprivileged.

He is survived by Katharine, their children, Jane-Frances, Teresa, and Nicky, and grandchildren Marley, Lluvia and Selva.

Catherine Hoskyns

The GuardianTramp

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