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News > Archive News > Obituaries > George Phipson (K 58-62)

George Phipson (K 58-62)

11 Jan 2022
Written by Tracey Ahmet

George Phipsom was born on August 14, 1944 and passed away on January 11, 2022 aged 77.

Educated at Fernden prep school, George came to Rugby in summer 1958. He was in Kilbracken house and overlapped his older brother John (K 54-58) by just two terms.

Little is known about his sporting and academic achievements, but his teenage love of model boats and planes persisted well into fatherhood.

A committed mathematician, George left Rugby in 1962 to read Maths and Economics at Bristol University. After

obtaining his degree and PGCE he taught at Bristol Grammar School for three years before moving to be Head of Maths at Woodberry Down Comprehensive in Hackney, London. George was remembered as an inspirational leader who cared for

his staff and the pupils and knew how to rescue challenging situations with the pupils.

Then followed a five-year post as a Deputy Head in Abbey Wood comprehensive, South London, where George started to develop an interest in education politics, and in particular, the fairer funding of schools.

George became Head Teacher at the 1200-pupil West Hatch Comprehensive school in 1982 where he stayed for 16 years. Described as a skilful and tenacious leader, he left a lasting legacy in many ways. He fought to have the sixth form back by changing the status of the school to Grant Maintained, and he built a new drama block, now named after him. He was passionate about applying the

school motto ‘to be the best that I can be’. His leaving present to the school was a flagpole and, on his death, some 24 years later, the school flag was flown at half-mast.

Outside school, George belonged to various Head Teacher organisations, running conferences and courses and continuing to campaign fervently for fairer funding for schools for at least 10 years after his retirement. He was often presenting ideas and plans to ministers and occasionally even the prime minister. He was awarded the CBE for services to education, in particular to the Association of Headteachers of Grant Maintained Schools, in 1998.

For at least 25 years, George used his management skills in voluntary work with the Greenwich Scouts - assisting with appointments of uniformed workers, problems with premises and finances. He loved to be of use in whatever capacity was needed to enable the frontline uniformed staff to run scouting activities smoothly, and was the President of the District Scouts until his death.

George was a regular attender at Glyndebourne, having been first taken there by his mother when at Rugby. He was also keen on fell walking and outdoors pursuits and for 30 years, pulled a touring caravan on family holidays.

He met his wife Jean on the ski slopes over years ago, having been introduced and nurtured in skiing by his family and university. They managed to ski most years until 2016 when George started insidiously to show signs of his terminal illness, Lewy Body Dementia.

George spent the last years at home surrounded by his wife, family and friends and died peacefully on January 11, 2022. He leaves his wife (a retired GP) three children (one of whom has teaching qualifications) and three grandchildren.

Adapted from a contribution from George’s wife Jean.

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