I was born in England and educated in Melbourne. My teaching career began in Australia. Having been nominated as one of the outstanding graduate teachers, in Melbourne, I was offered a choice of schools in the State of Victoria. I chose to travel 200 miles, across the State, taking six hours in my clapped out Fiat 500, to work in a one-teacher school in the Bush. Electricity was provided by a noisy generator and there was an outside “dunny” which was emptied weekly by the “pan” man.
I taught twenty children, aged from 3 to 11 years, all in my one-teacher room. This urban girl quickly learned to deal with snakes, drought, spiders, diving plovers, collecting pine cones and wood chippings to fuel the water heater and, especially, eating the daily meals of grey lamb mince, made by the farmer's wife, with whom I was boarding. I became used to the slaughtered sheep meals, but not the endless red dust!
I left Australia in the 1960s and followed the man I loved, my future husband Evan Hercules, to London, where I taught Art and English at a Secondary Modern School, in Hackney. I spent several years teaching in the State System at all levels, which were rich, varied and, occasionally, challenging experiences of different approaches to education.
I decided to create my own school, not only because my daughter, Abi, seemed to be unfulfilled at school and was becoming a school refuser, but also because my son, Fabian, continued to be unidentified, by his school, as dyslexic.
My passion and determination, combined with an unerring belief that children should be included in their learning and listened to, as they expressed their thoughts, ideas and opinions drove me to create my own school.
So, in 1978, Evan and I acquired 8 Dallington Street, the former site of the Gatehouse School and, with the help of Fabian and Abi, set about clearing out the slop bins, dusting the cobwebs and painting the walls! I opened the doors of 8 Dallington Street on 10th April 1978.
Through word of mouth, five children arrived; should have been six, but one had measles! They spent the day being taught by me with Jackie, my first member of staff, in Middle School and Dallington School was born!
In 2009, I was nominated for a Teaching Award and was absolutely thrilled to receive the Ted Wragg Lifetime Achievement Award (with Distinction) from Baroness Shirley Williams, whose sharp intellect and infectious sense of humour enlivened the workshop and ceremony at Central Hall, Westminster.
Dallington is a family-owned and run business; we are truly independent and intend to remain so.
In 2018, I was honoured to be awarded an MBE for outstanding services to education in the New Year Honours List. The Investiture at Buckingham Palace on 15th March was absolutely memorable and I shall never forget joking with Prince Charles about the perils of walking backwards and curtseying! Prince Charles was utterly charming and I felt so very special.
In the summer of 2019, having been the Teaching Head for over forty years, I reluctantly decided to take a step back from my role as Headteacher whilst remaining proprietor, due to health reasons.