Gordon Newman

  |  Published: Mar 19th 2015
Gordon Newman
Gordon Newman

Wendover News regrets to inform readers of the death of Gordon Newman, aged 89, on 24 February. His funeral was held in Sutton on Sea, Lincolnshire, on Friday 13 March. Anyone who wishes may make a donation to The Alzheimer’s Society. Many thanks to Richard Williams who attended the funeral representing John Colet School and who provided the evocative photo.

Gordon William Newman was headmaster of John Colet School from 1962 to 1984.

Cherry-Anne Evans, who taught with Gordon in both The Grange and The Colet, writes: Prior to taking on the headship of John Colet School, Gordon Newman had been deputy headmaster at The Grange School in Aylesbury. He took over a small, rural school and built it into a thriving educational establishment with a very good academic reputation. Pupils and staff alike appreciated his forward looking policies, his disciplinary requirements and his interest. He was not a remote figurehead but a hands on, visible, headmaster.

Philip Mitchell adds: In 1984 I was very lucky to become headmaster to succeed Gordon Newman as headteacher of John Colet School, which was well respected in the local area. There was a good work ethic among the children and the staff were clearly focussed on the needs of the pupils.

Wendover News welcomes tributes, anecdotes and high resolution photographs to be published in the May print edition and online. To email, click here.


These tributes were published in the May 2015 edition of Wendover News:

Gordon Newman was the second headmaster I worked for in a teaching career lasting almost 40 years. I remember him with great admiration, affection and, in many ways, his capacity to inspire awe.

He always seemed to me to be very much ‘his own man’, running the school the way he wanted, unfettered by outside interference. Gordon nurtured both his staff and the pupils placed in his care and had an innate ability to extract the best from both. The school thrived under his kind of leadership and gained a healthy reputation as a good and sound educational establishment. I was proud to be part of his team. 
I also regarded him with respect for the way he solved many problems through an indirect and somewhat creative approach; he was one of the great lateral thinkers.  Just one example - as a young and hard-up teacher I remember a colleague having a dispute with me that was affecting us both. At the time we had rather long lunch breaks and Gordon suggested taking him for lunch in a local hostelry to sort things out. When I said that I couldn’t afford it, he promptly gave me cash out of his own pocket and insisted I take it. Problem solved, relationships repaired, harmony restored.

During the long school holidays Gordon set up expeditions for sixth form students, where they explored geographical topics, history, theatre and much more. The first was to Iceland; others to Morocco and Greece followed. They were very popular, educationally sound and, as far as I know, unique to John Colet School. Elf’n Safety hadn’t yet made an appearance!

Gordon was respected, but like most of us, had nicknames. Not ones that ridiculed, but more terms of liking and warmth. Pupils from the 60’s will be familiar with ‘Chad’. Where that name came from I don’t know. The cartoon figure of a little man with a long nose looking over a garden wall seems an unlikely source. I am more familiar with the phrase ‘Batman and Robin’. At morning assemblies Gordon would invariably arrive late, his cloak and gown billowing and blowing in the draught he’d created and closely followed by the (smaller) Deputy Head Teacher, desperately trying to keep up. The memory makes me smile.

Gordon wasn’t really a strict disciplinarian, although some may disagree. He laid down the rules and saw that they were followed, communicated with his staff and pupils, and motivated as well as rewarded them. All of that he did effectively . . . and was a great Head Teacher, the like of which we will never see again. Oh yes, we have forgiven him for wearing those white socks in assembly. Rest in Peace, Mr. Newman, my friend and mentor.

John Winter

Gordon Newman had only been Headmaster for one term when in January 1963, aged 14yrs, I became a pupil at the school. Looking back it is evident that he had the ability to see the hidden potential, be it academic or practical, in all his pupils. With his guidance, the staff’s encouragement and determination, the best was drawn out of them even, when like me, they had almost given up on themselves. In 1965 he appointed me as Head Girl.

Pupils left John Colet with a good grounding both educationally and socially but most important of all . . . a feeling of self worth. I know that I certainly did, returning to the school - after a period at university, as a fully-fledged teacher. He instilled in every student the fact that they weren’t failures in attending a secondary modern school. I know many who went on to become teachers, doctors, television personalities and important and intelligent people in the community. I know of an eminent professor who started her secondary education in the ‘remedial’ section.

Like many others, I will be forever grateful for the opportunities presented to me by Gordon Newman, a man who had a great educational influence in my early years. Thank you Gordon. May you rest in peace.

Lynda Winter nee Rawlings

I was very sad to hear that Gordon Newman had died. He had such a wonderful aura about him, I felt he would live for ever. I feel very privileged to have been one of the many pupils who attended John Colet when he was Headmaster - and that he certainly was.
Gordon Newman was a stickler for discipline and working to the best of his abilities, expecting the same from all of his pupils. However, despite his aspirations for all of us, there was never any doubt that under that wonderful head of silver hair, smart suit, not to mention the odd waft of pipe tobacco, was a kind gentle man.

Eileen Lock-Macardy

A personal tribute to Mr Newman for his efforts and foresight to give his students the very best start in life: via a sixth form leading to A-levels followed by two degrees. He will always be remembered with affection and thanks.


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