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Headteacher leaves a great learning legacy

Published Friday, 11 February 2011

Geof Cumner-Price, headteacher at Oakthorpe Primary School in Tile Kiln Lane, Palmers Green, died last Friday 4th February after a long and brave struggle with cancer.

He had been at the school for 32 years and 25 of those as headteacher. 

He had a huge impact on the lives of so many children, staff, parents and the local community and will be long remembered.

Oakthorpe owes its success to his high expectations and enthusiasm and unrelenting determination 

The school reached the highest possible standards and was recognised as 'outstanding' by Ofsted in the 2008 inspection.

Geof was an inspired teacher and Oakthorpe gained special status as a training school in 2002.

New young teachers could be assured of seeing exceptional teaching at Oakthorpe where they learned from Geof and his staff that learning and teaching should be a joyful experience for children and teachers alike.

Under Geof's leadership the school was quite simply festooned in the children's work which was displayed with great care.

Musicals and plays at Christmas, international days where the children learned to cook and enjoy new cultures and speechmaking where the children were encouraged to make their own speeches to their fellow pupils were part of the teaching legacy that Geof leaves for the school.

In 2007 he reached the finals of the national teaching awards and was recognised with a distinction in the 'headteacher of a primary school' category.

However, perhaps closer to his heart was a beautiful album of thanks and memories from teachers and children who called him the best headteacher in the world.

His life was the school and the children, which he sustained with energy, innovation and commitment.  His priorities were always the wellbeing of all children and his staff. 

Children have shared fond and happy memories of him, happy, making them laugh and remembering his funny ties.

Typically, Romario, aged seven, said "He was like a dad to me."

Tributes are pouring in from Enfield's teaching community:
Sally Moore, headteacher at St Paul's primary school, and chair of Enfield's primary headteachers' association said, "Geof was a real star and helped so many young teachers in the early years of their career. He was a kind, warm man who understood exactly how to engage with young children. We all loved him and admired his absolute dedication.'

"He was charming and cheerful, full of fun but very wise acting as an excellent mentor to many Enfield head teachers who were new in post. He will be greatly missed by the Enfield community of headteachers and it is a very sad loss for all his family and friends. Our thoughts are with them."

Former director of education Neil Rousell, said, "Geof's sheer devotion to teaching was uplifting and wonderful. His great ability to relate to all children and his staff led to a truly happy school where children soared in their learning and a little Geof magic rubbed off on the teachers.

"Geof was never precious about teaching - he just loved it and he leaves a school and community that much richer because he was its leader."

He leaves behind four wonderful children and a very supportive wife who is also a teacher. 

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