My friend Chris Deane, who has died of a heart attack aged 73, was an inspirational teacher and headteacher before taking up an active role in local politics after he retired.
Born in Catford, south-east London, Chris was the second youngest of the six children of Charles Deane, a receptionist at the Press Club in Fleet Street, and Phyllis (nee Warren), an accounts clerk at Robertson’s Preserves.
He left South East London boys’ school aged 16 with few academic qualifications, but was determined to go into higher education after working for a while as an office junior. He asked some of his teachers to coach him while he took to his books in his own time. Having passed his exams, he went to Kingston College of Technology (now Kingston University) to study sociology, graduating in 1969, and then did his PGCE at the Institute of Education (now part of University College London).
He began his career as a social studies teacher at Spencer Park boys’ school in Wandsworth in 1970, moving to Holland Park school as head of social education in 1974. There he built a team of loyal staff, of whom I was one. We all felt our ideas and contributions would be welcomed and respected. He was a superb planner, and witty – it was often very funny, as well as instructive, to work with him. He was one of those enthusiastic, left-leaning teachers who were able to motivate their students. One of his 1980s tutor groups still has a WhatsApp group “Call Me Chris”. He was a senior teacher when he left to take up the post of deputy headteacher at John Roan school in Greenwich in 1988.
He became the headteacher at John Roan in 1991. Chris prioritised music, sports, drama and other activities. His leadership was recognised when John Roan featured in the top 100 most improved schools in the country. It was also the most oversubscribed school in Greenwich.
Chris had been active in the NUT as a teacher, and later became involved in the National Association of Head Teachers. He was always the first head to analyse and question, with quiet charm, good humour and precise arguments, any local authority proposal that might disadvantage schools in Greenwich.
His analytical approach made him an admired mentor to other headteachers. On retirement from John Roan in 2002, he became a tutor for the National Professional Qualification for Headship until he retired in 2008.
Chris met Nicky Dyer when both were headteachers in London. They married in 2007 and in 2011 moved to Hythe, Kent. They joined the local Labour constituency party and Chris became a Labour candidate in the Kent county council and Hythe town council elections.
He is survived by Nicky, her three children and four grandchildren, and his three sisters.