City head who oversaw new era dies aged 87

Top head: Russell Sharrock.
Top head: Russell Sharrock.

A LEADING Sheffield headteacher who helped pioneer comprehensive education in the city in the 1960s has died aged 87.

Russell Sharrock was headmaster at King Edward VII School in Broomhill from 1966 to 1988, and was its longest serving principal.

He took charge when ‘King Teds’ was still the city’s leading grammar school - and with many of the staff openly hostile to a comprehensive system which would also see the admission of girls for the first time.

Mr Sharrock was recruited by the city council as he had experience of one of the early comprehensives in south London.

When the switch came in 1969 he also had to cope with a school now based on two sites, in Broomhill and Crosspool.

But Mr Sharrock fought hard to maintain King Edward’s high academic standards throughout his time in charge, initially keeping many of the grammar school structures and traditions in place.

School historian and governor John Cornwell said few new headteachers could have faced a more difficult brief.

“Russell took a pragmatic approach to introducing comprehensive education. He had no intention of throwing away the school’s reputation for academic excellence by encouraging an ideologically-driven blueprint.

“The council ensured every shade of wealth and social deprivation was represented at King Edward’s in relatively equal proportions, and so was the ability range.

“In his later years, when he was the last member of staff to regularly wear a gown, the ethnic composition of the school also began to change, reflecting the arrival of new communities in the city,” Mr Cornwell said.

Mr Sharrock would later say: “We have maintained the excellence of education at KES, even if we are now a different sort of school.”

The funeral takes place at St Mark’s Church, Broomhill at 1pm on December 28.