School sector pays tribute to Queen Elizabeth II, 1926-2022

'The Queen's dedication to public service has been an inspiration to children and adults alike over the past 70 years'

'The Queen's dedication to public service has been an inspiration to children and adults alike over the past 70 years'

8 Sep 2022, 19:19

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The schools sector has paid tribute to Queen Elizabeth II

The schools community has paid tribute to the Queen’s “dedication to public service” after it was announced she has died at the age of 96.

The royal family announced the news this evening.

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the ASCL leaders’ union, said the Queen’s “dedication to public service has been an inspiration to children and adults alike over the past 70 years”.

“We are deeply saddened by her death. She will be hugely missed by the nation, including all those in the world of education where many people will have fond memories of jubilee and other royal events during her reign.

“Through her dignity and unswerving sense of duty the Queen has set an extraordinary example to us all, and she has been a reassuring presence through many turbulent times. We pay tribute to her and we send our deepest sympathies to her family.”

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the NAHT school leaders’ union, said: “This is a terribly sad time for the royal family and the nation. Queen Elizabeth has been a constant in all of our lives. Her service to the nation cannot be underestimated and will never be forgotten.”

Dame Alison Peacock, chief executive of the Chartered College of Teaching, said the Queen was a “wonderfully inspirational, warm leader. It was a total honour to meet her and to spend time with her. Bless you Ma’am.”

Sir Martyn Oliver, chief executive of the Outwood Grange Academies Trust, said the Queen’s dedication was “unparalleled”, and announced its schools’ flags would fly at half mast.

“Our trust will observe the mourning period while continuing to support our pupils.”

The Queen had a long relationship with the education sector

The monarch had a long-established relationship with the sector, spending a significant amount of time during her 70-year reign visiting schools and meeting children. 

Over the past two years, her public outings have been stymied both by Covid and her own ill health, with the Queen having to pull out of many key events due to ongoing issues. 

One of her last visits to the sector was to King’s Bruton School in Somerset, where she opened a music centre and spoke to students in 2019. 

To mark her platinum jubilee earlier this year, every child at a state primary school in the UK received a commemorative book commissioned by the DfE. 

Queen Elizabeth II is greeted by schoolchildren at Guernsey Airport at the start of a two day state visit to the Channel Islands

With the input of royal experts and historians, it gave children a glimpse into her tenure, including her most famous quotes and facts on the coronation ceremony. 

The Queen was also the patron of several private schools including Royal Russell School in Croydon, South London and Berkhamsted School in Hertfordshire. 

With parliamentary business expected to be suspended for 10 days, a list of priority issues in the new education secretary’s in-tray will likely be on hold. 

The day of Her Majesty’s funeral will be one of national mourning, but it is up to employers whether their staff can take the day off. 

It is not known whether schools will close, with the Department for Education only pledging so far to “give guidance to schools”. 

Prime Minister Liz Truss says Queen Elizabeth II leaves a “great legacy”.

“Today the Crown passes, as it has done for more than a thousand years, to our new monarch, our new head of state, His Majesty King Charles III.

“With the King’s family we mourn the loss of his mother and come together.

“We offer him our loyalty and devotion, just as his mother devoted so much to us for so long.”

Education secretary Kit Malthouse said Her Majesty’s “devotion to public service has been an inspiration, and her wisdom and strength have often provided solace to her people in times of darkness, most recently during the pandemic”.

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