North Walsham

Tribute as North Walsham High School headteacher dies

Just Regional
Jan 5, 2016 3 mins read

Caroline Brooker, who led North Walsham High School as headteacher for a decade, has died, aged 54.

The announcement, alongside a glowing tribute, was made by Alex Robinson, chair of governors at North Walsham High School, who said: “It is with very great sadness that we announce the death of our headteacher, Caroline Brooker.  Caroline died on New Year’s Eve, at home.”

Mrs Brooker was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in the summer of 2012, but after surgery and chemotherapy, she returned to her post in May 2013, when she spoke about the support she had received from colleagues and students.

She said at the time: “At first the only contact I had was through social media because of the risk of infection. But I also received poems and hand-made cards through the post from the children. When I made my first return to school and walked in with my new image and different hairstyle, one of the Year 9 boys just said ‘welcome back’, without any flicker about me looking different.  It was very positive.”

On her return, Mrs Brooker, who was married with three children, set about implementing a school improvement plan, which ultimately led to a ‘Good’ Oftsed judgement in May 2015 , a much-welcomed success following the previous 2013 judgment of ‘Requires Improvement’.

In September, Mrs Brooker announced that she would retire as head at the end of the school year, in July 2016.  Shortly afterwards she took long-term sick leave.

Alex Robinson said: “Caroline joined the school as headteacher in 2005, since when she led it through a period of sustained consolidation and improvement, culminating in a glowing Ofsted report in May 2015, when the school was officially designated ‘Good’.

“But Caroline knew more than anyone that a successful education is much more than what goes on in the classroom, and her dedication to providing a full, all-round educational experience has given many hundreds of students the confidence, opportunities and life skills which so importantly complement the academic side of education.

“She summed up her approach to education in her application for the headship back in 2005: ‘Intellectually, young people need to be stimulated and challenged by learning; culturally they need to have opportunities which will give full rein to their talents and interests; and socially, they need to be helped towards a mature appreciation of the notions of community, social values and personal integrity’.

“Caroline brought these exact values to NWHS, and the school owes a great deal to her decade of leadership.  She will be greatly missed by governors, staff and parents, but above all by the very many young people whose lives she has enhanced so richly.

“Our thoughts are very much with her family, and we will be supporting students and staff as we mourn Caroline’s passing.”

Caroline studied Biological Sciences at the University of East Anglia before taking a PGCE at the University of Manchester. She spent her entire teaching career in Norfolk and Suffolk, spending a year at King Edward VII School in King’s Lynn from 1984-85, followed by a year at Wymondham High School.  She became deputy head of the maths department at Bowthorpe High School in 1986, followed by a similar role at Bungay High School in 1988.

In 1990 she was appointed head of maths at Wayland High School, before becoming assistant head teacher at Earlham High School in 1995, where she spent eight years. Her first headship was at Heartsease High School, where she was appointed in 2003, before becoming head teacher of North Walsham High School in 2005.

Caroline Brooker

Caroline Brooker

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