Dame Helen Metcalf loses battle with cancer

Universal praise for former head of Chiswick Community School


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Dame Helen Metcalf has died on 1 December, following a long battle against cancer. Dame Helen was the former Headteacher of Chiswick Community School from 1988 until she retired through ill health in 2001.

Dame Helen was an outstanding Headteacher who was credited with turning the school around and setting it on course for the successful school it is today. Dame Helen was made a Dame in 1998 for her commitment to education and her work at Chiswick.

Virginia Shapiro, former Chair of Governors at Chiswick Community School, said, “Helen Metcalf brought to Chiswick a rare mixture of personal warmth and humour and professional skill and tough-mindedness. She transformed Chiswick School by focussing on what happened in classrooms and providing clear support for teachers and an exhilarating framework for those who wanted to explore ways of improving their teaching.”

Jonathon Bach, Headteacher of Chiswick Community School, said, "Dame Helen is regarded as being the finest Headteacher that Chiswick ever had. Not only did she turn the school into a successful, vibrant school but she also set into place many measures to ensure that standards would rise consistently and that students would have the opportunity to reach their full potential. The legacy of Dame Helen's time at Chiswick is still very strong and I am sure that it will stay strong well into the future."

Valerie Yates, former Chair of Governors, said, “I found Helen to be a wonderfully kind and warm person, inspirational within the school and for anyone who worked with her. She became a good friend and was as courageous in battling her illness as she was in bringing about the welcome changes at Chiswick.”

Colin Ellar, Executive Member for Lifelong Learning, said, “I’m sure that parents, teachers and former pupils will be very sad to hear of this news. Dame Helen was a remarkable woman who made an enormous difference to the lives of so many people in the borough. The success of Chiswick Community School has in no small way been down to the commitment and dedication that Dame Helen showed during her time in Chiswick. Many people will miss her very much.”

December 4, 2003