Philip Toogood. 11th October 1935 – 8th September 2013.

Philip Toogood 11 October 1935 – 8th September 2013.

 It is with great sadness that we record the death of Philip Toogood. He had been battling a severe form of Myeloid Leukaemia for sometime. He had been positive and resolute throughout his debilitating treatment but tragically contracted a chest infection which his body could not cope with.

Throughout his long, diverse career in education he has been constantly supported by his wife Annabel. She enjoyed a final summer with Philip with fond memories in the garden of their Scottish home and Philip died with his family around him.

Philip Toogood was a trustee and director of CPE-PEN having spent a lifetime as a serial educational pioneer and been head-teacher three times.

Philip’s career included teaching at Uppingham School and working as Head of Department at Wyndham Comprehensive School, Egremont, Cumberland from 1966 to 1970,

As Warden of Swavesey Village College (1966-1970) he led the secondary school to become comprehensive and the adult and youth provision into generic community education.  He explored the ideas of Henry Morris and his Village College concept. He was later elected as the first Chair of the National Community Education Association.

In Telford, he was Head of Madeley  Court  School (1977-1983), a large social priority area 11-18 comprehensive and Chair of the adult association of the whole education and recreation centre; he developed the theory and practice of mini-schooling to break up large schools into small human-scale learning communities (now often referred to as schools within schools).  He resigned his post in protest against the policy of the education authority.

At Hartland, he was invited by the Schumacher Society to co-ordinate a movement to become known as the Human Scale Education Association in 1985, culminating in a three-day international conference in Oxford. This explored the ideas of Minischooling and Flexischooling in a variety of settings including the ‘New York City as School’ and the need to protect small schools and the right to home education.  The three main planks of Human Scale Education were:

Small Schools – both the preservation of those in existence as well the development of new ones,

Mini-schooling to humanise large schools,

Flexischooling to link the human scale structures of schools with home-educating families in genuine home-school partnerships.

Philip and his wife Annabel spent two years working at the Small School at Hartland. They were then asked by parents to re-open the Dame Catherine’s School at Ticknall, Derbyshire, as an independent, parent-cooperative learning centre and all-ages school and base for the development of  flexischooling.

Philip established Dialogue Publications which ran a magazine for a few issues and published a book, The Head’s Tale.  He then went on the found the Education Now Publishing Co-operative Ltd. in 1987, which went on to publish over 40 books and 12 magazines in its first years and 44 News and Review. His own writing has included The Head’s Tale, editing Small Schools, and co-authoring the ground-breaking Anatomy of Choice in Education, contributing to Flexischooling, and writing a manual on Minischooling. Education Now’ evolved into The Centre for Personalised Education Trust – Personalised Education Now.  

The secondary section of Dame Catherine’s split off to become the East Midlands Flexicollege, a base for the development of flexi-schooling (perhaps the UK’s earliest example of a full flexischool) in Burton upon Trent. This was presented to the Blair government as a model for attachment to each secondary school in Burton but, in spite of initial encouragement to make the application and strong approval in the official published inspection, the request was refused.

Philip then spent 2 years running a small languages school in Andalucia near Granada in Southern Spain. Returning to the UK he engaged in a 2-month consultancy job in Independent learning in a London secondary school. He continued to offer in-service training assignments and consultancy to do with the personalised education pathways such as Independent Learning.

Philip and Annabel moved to Scotland where he began rewriting his book ‘A head’s Tale’. Philip was latterly engaged on devising a website for educational pioneers in this field and an App for learners to use derived from the Flexicollege experience of independent, autonomous and personalised learning.

Philip was a giant of a man (in every way!), a great educational pioneer, thinker and doer. As the founder of Education Now, its many newsletters and some of its early books provided a platform for his ideas. These have continued to be published by Educational Heretics Press and in the Journals of the Centre for Personalised Education. He was always full of ideas and had both the energy and courage to follow his heart and put these into practice.

We shall initially honour Philip’s life and work in a Special Journal and later in other ways but for now our thoughts go out to Annabel and the rest of his family, particularly, his children and 11 grandchildren.

The world has lost a great educator.

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