Tributes paid to popular Wigan former head teacher

Roy Halford died on Wednesday after a career in which he played a huge role in education in the borough.

Thursday, 30th April 2020, 9:50 am
Updated Thursday, 30th April 2020, 3:48 pm
Roy Halford

As head teacher at Hawkley Hall High School he oversaw a considerable rise in standards and exam results, with the Carr Lane school heading to the top of the borough GCSE league table and becoming an academy as well as a Department for Education (DfE) sponsor.

It also became a Teaching School in 2017, passing on the secrets of its success to other teachers and facilities and playing a major role in recruiting and training new entrants to the classroom.

Mr Halford died aged just 60 following a long battle with motor neurone disease (MND), which was diagnosed shortly after his retirement from education in May 2018.

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He also served as chief executive of the Rowan Learning Trust, which was set up when Hawkley Hall gained academy status and stemmed from Mr Halford's vision to improve the life chances of more pupils across the North West.

The current Hawkley Hall head teacher Matt Klinck led the tributes to him, speaking of the school community's "great sadness" at his death and of his legacy in a statement.

Mr Klinck said: "It is very difficult to put into words how much Roy did for the community. He gave so much to Hawkley Hall High School, the Trust and beyond, supporting countless other schools, teachers and leaders across the North West.

"His loss will be felt by many, many people. He was, quite simply, a remarkable leader of people. So many of our community saw him as a role model, a visionary, a confidant, a calming influence in challenging times but, most of all, a wonderful, kind man who treated everyone with respect and empathy.

"His passion for the community and his total commitment to improving the education, and ultimately the life chances of our students was infectious and inspired us all.

"Ultimately, he wanted our young people to be proud of themselves, to treat others as they would want to be treated, and be the best people they could be. He will be sorely missed by us all."

Mr Klinck said he was working on a way for mourners to pass on their condolences to Mr Halford's family and for the community to remember him.

Mr Halford attended the former Golborne Comprehensive before going to Salford University to study biochemistry.

He began his teaching career at The Deanery CE High School. After working elsewhere he returned to the borough as deputy head at Fred Longworth High School in Tyldesley.

He was appointed to the top job at Hawkley Hall in September 2002.

He became an executive headteacher in 2013 when Kirkby High School joined the Rowan Learning Trust to benefit from his expertise in driving up standards.

The Trust now has four schools, with Marus Bridge Primary School and the Three Towers Alternative Provision Academy also on board.

The Trust's chief executive officer Phil Rimmer said: "Roy approached his battle with illness in the same way he approached every challenge in his life; with grit, determination and dignity.

"A passion for improving the life chances of students is what drove him. This is what inspired so many colleagues that he came into contact with during his career, including myself.

"He leaves behind him a legacy of excellent teachers and strong leaders all driven by a clear moral purpose to ensure that students get off to the best start in life.

"Having interviewed me for my first teaching job in 2000, I had the pleasure of working with him for the majority of the next 18 years until his retirement. He provided advice, support and a listening ear throughout my career as he did for so many.

"Roy will be sorely missed but his influence will live on for many years.

"Once we are able to, we will mark his passing and celebrate the life of a remarkable man taken too soon."

Mr Halford was married and had a daughter.

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