‘Somebody Threatened To Burn The School Down’

England’s Pioneering Black Head Teachers

It is 50 years since the first wave of black head teachers took up their roles in English schools, yet ethnic minorities remain under-represented in senior roles.

BBC News Online examines the impact of these pioneers of the profession as they overcame prejudice and multiple rejections on their rise to the top of their field.

‘I remember sitting at a bus stop with tears rolling down my face’

Yvonne Conolly, who was head teacher at Ringcross Infant School, in Highbury, London from 1969 to 1976, arrived in England in 1963 in what she describes as a “posh banana boat” from Jamaica.

“The boat carried bananas in the hold but it was a nice ship upstairs and the food was superb,” she said.

“I was 23 and had taught at a boarding school in Jamaica. I planned to study for a degree in education in Britain and return home. Of course, I ended up staying.”

But life in London, where Mrs Conolly settled, was far from easy… [see more]

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