Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Obituary - Peter Hastings 1922-2012: News

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Obituary - Peter Hastings 1922-2012: News

Article excerpt

Peter Hastings was a visionary Catholic headteacher who championed children's curiosity and their right to enjoy learning in an atmosphere of freedom.

Peter Charles Hastings was born in Kuala Lumpur in 1922, the second son of a lawyer who served on the Federal Council of Malaya. His great- grandfather, Sir Charles Hastings, founded the British Medical Association, and his brother, Adrian, was a distinguished academic and theologian.

Peter was educated in England and read history at Worcester College, Oxford, before volunteering for the Royal Navy Reserve in 1942. In 1946, he returned to Oxford to study law, but left after two terms to recover from his war experience, hitch-hiking around France. He then opened a Catholic bookshop in Dundee, only to discover that the Catholic population of Dundee bought few books - and still fewer Catholic ones. In 1950, he returned to Oxford to run another bookshop, with limited financial success, and to marry Virginia Nicholson.

In 1956, he took a diploma in education and taught for three years in Kisubi School, Uganda. He returned with his family to England and in 1961 was appointed head of history and the library at Fitzharrys School, a secondary modern in Abingdon, Oxfordshire, where he became increasingly frustrated by traditional approaches to the curriculum. In 1966, despite his modest experience, he was appointed headmaster of Bishop Bright Grammar School, a new Catholic school in Leamington Spa.

Peter believed outstanding young teachers would inspire young minds, and his headhunting became legendary. …

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