Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Obituary - Betty Brett 1933-2012: News

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Obituary - Betty Brett 1933-2012: News

Article excerpt

The experience of growing up in the aftermath of the Great Depression led Betty Brett to do all she could to rescue fellow teachers from poverty and despair.

Born Betty Evans in 1933, she was raised in Durham, where her father was a miner and a union official. She attended teacher training college in Didsbury and took her first job in Durham in 1953, as a secondary teacher specialising in English and PE. Later, she switched to working in primary schools.

From Durham, Mrs Brett moved to South Woodford in East London with her husband Bill. This move coincided with the start of her long involvement with the NUT. She joined the Leyton branch in 1963, when she began teaching at the former Ruckholt Manor school, and she was a founder member of Waltham Forest NUT in 1965, serving as president four times between 1983 and 2009. She also took on the role of treasurer. Her commitment was recognised at the 2010 NUT conference, when she was given a standing ovation in honour of the fact that she was the longest serving member to attend.

Mrs Brett was also active in the Teachers' Benevolent Fund (now the Teacher Support Network), helping teachers out of debt and despair in her role as area secretary.

Throughout her career, she fought to defend education. To her mind, schools should be about children, not statistics or bureaucracy. Unsurprisingly, she had little time for Ofsted.

Mrs Brett's first commitment was always to the classroom. She went on to teach in several primary and secondary schools in Waltham Forest, as well as working for the local authority to help schools with management difficulties. …

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