Tributes to head who led a school revolution

Russell Sharrock.
Russell Sharrock.

TRIBUTES were paid this week to Russell Sharrock, the former headteacher of King Edward VII School in Sheffield, who steered the school through the upheaval of changing from a boys’ only grammar to a co-ed comprehensive.

Mr Sharrock, who died in Sheffield on Wednesday last week, was the longest-serving head at the school, taking over in 1966 and completing 22 years.

“Many will fondly remember his courteous, dignified and reassuring presence during those years when he guided KES through such turbulent times,” said governor and school historian John Cornwell.

Born in Wigan in 1942, Mr Sharrock was the Labour council’s choice to take King Edward’s into a new era in the face of widespread opposition among many school staff and parents.

His aim was to maintain a “grammar school” within the comprehensive system, while raising the aspirations and achievements of pupils who would have been previously excluded by the 11+ examination.

“Russell Sharrock’s great achievement was to guide KES through that difficult period of transition and establish a successful comprehensive school,” said Mr Cornwell. “One that could metaphorically look its predecessor grammar school in the eye and say: ‘We have maintained the excellence of education at KES, even if we are now a different sort of school’.”

Mr Sharrock is survived by his wife Mary, whom he met when they were both teaching in Lancaster in the 50s.

The funeral is at St Mark’s, Broomhill, on Wednesday at 1pm.