Tributes flood in for Yvonne Connolly, Britain’s first black headteacher, after her death

TRIBUTES HAVE poured in for Britain’s first black female headteacher, Yvonne Connolly, whose death was announced on 30th January.

Connolly became the country’s first black headteacher in 1969 at Ring Cross Infant School, in Holloway, at just 29-years-old. 

She arrived in the UK in 1963 as part of the Windrush generation with just three years of education training before having a career in education that spanned over 40 years.

She was also an Ofsted inspector for seven years between 1977-1986. When this role ended, she continued being an active voice in the home secretary’s advisory council on race relations.

The Department of Education has paid their respects to Connolly in a statement, describing her as a “history maker.”

PICTURED: Yvonne Conolly in her days as head teacher of Kings Cross Infants School (Photo: Evening Standard/Getty Images)

“We’re sad to hear about the death of Yvonne Conolly, the UK’s first female black head teacher. She remains an inspiration and leaves a lasting legacy,” the statement read.

Former Times Education Supplement editor, Ann Mroz, said that she was “sad to hear” of her passing.

She went on to describe her as a “remarkable trailblazing educator and a wonderfully supportive woman.”

Connolly, who had been suffering from an incurable blood cancer for ten years, received racist abuse after being appointed headteacher and needed a bodyguard to accompany her to work.

After retiring from teaching in 2001, Connolly remained chair of the Caribbean Teachers’ Association and in October 2020 she was honoured for her services to education with the Honorary Fellow of Education award from the Naz Legacy Foundation.

HRH Prince of Wales, who announced Connolly’s award, said at the time that she had “character and determination” which helped her break barriers for black educators.

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