Ken Lawson obituary

Other lives: Teacher who went on to become a lecturer in education

My father, Ken Lawson, who has died aged 81 of pancreatitis, had a long career as a teacher and lecturer.

Born in Liverpool, the son of Tommy, a machine setter for Meccano, and Alice (nee Yates), a shop assistant, Ken enjoyed a loving childhood surrounded by extended family. He attended the Liverpool Institute high school for boys, leaving after his O-levels to work as an apprentice engineer in a telephone factory. Around this time he met Gill Jones, a teacher, whom he married in 1964. She encouraged him to return to education and he studied for his A-levels at night school, sparking a love of learning that was to remain with him throughout his life.

Ken subsequently studied at Didsbury Teacher Training College in Manchester (1961-64), before moving to east London, where he taught by day, at Sebright junior school, Hackney, and took a history degree at Birkbeck, University of London, in the evenings. Teaching in a deprived part of inner London, he found the first term challenging, but when he returned to school after Christmas, his class were thrilled – apparently, no teacher had ever stayed with them that long before. A real bond was born, as was Ken’s love of teaching.

In 1966 came a move to Bristol, where Ken taught for eight years at Knowle Park junior school, and where I and my brother, Peter, were born. There was more nocturnal studying (this time a master’s in education at Bristol University), then came moves to Dorset, where Ken became deputy head of Hillbourne middle school in Poole, and Devon, as he was made headmaster at Bradley Rowe middle school in Exeter.

In 1985, Ken realised a long-held ambition to work in teacher education when he was appointed principal lecturer in charge of the PGCE course at Rolle College, Exmouth (later part of the University of Plymouth). He relished the chance to steer the next generation of teachers and made many enduring friendships among the students and staff.

A highlight came when he helped to lead the college’s student exchange programme to the State University of New York at Fredonia, a trip that inspired many later adventures as he and Gill frequently visited the US, travelling and hiking in more than 20 states.

From 2001 Ken enjoyed a happy retirement, full of friends, books, coastal walks, visiting his grandchildren and following the fortunes of Liverpool FC. The warmth, intelligence, kindness and sense of fun for which he was well known remained with him until the end.

He is survived by Gill, Peter and me, and by four grandchildren, Honor, Esme, Jacob and Rose.

Anna Roberts

The GuardianTramp

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