Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Obituary - Ray Honeyford - 1934-2012: News

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Obituary - Ray Honeyford - 1934-2012: News

Article excerpt

Before the Honeyford Affair, Ray Honeyford was simply the mild- mannered head of a Bradford middle school.

The scandal that would bear his name broke in 1984, when he published an article claiming that multiculturalism was adversely affecting pupils' education. Immediately he became a hero to the political right, the embodiment of evil to the left. Parents picketed his school; death threats followed. His teaching career was over.

Raymond Honeyford was born in Manchester in February 1934, the son of a wounded war veteran. Ray, his parents and his 10 siblings, six of whom died in childhood, lived in a terraced house with no inside toilet and no books.

Having failed his 11-plus, Ray left school at 15. Working in an office during the day, he trained as a teacher in the evening. Later, he took an MA in linguistics at Lancaster University.

His career, at a succession of Manchester secondaries, was devoted to disadvantaged pupils: education, he believed, could transform their lives, as it had transformed his own. In 1981 he was appointed head of Drummond Middle School in Bradford, where more than 90 per cent of the pupils were Asian.

His first brush with controversy came a year later, when he wrote an article for TES. In it, he attacked the policy of multiculturalism, which encouraged pupils to retain their heritage culture and language, even at the expense of a shared British identity.

Two years later, he published a piece in The Salisbury Review. In language that, at very best, was injudicious - "the hysterical political temperament of the Indian subcontinent" - he condemned political correctness as effective censorship. …

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