Howard Clarke obituary

My husband, Howard Clarke, who has died aged 76, was a sixth-form college principal in the north-east of England and a stout defender of the need for greater financial support for further education, in particular through his involvement with the Sixth Form Colleges Association.

Howard was born in Sheffield, the son of Mary (nee Pemberton), a sales clerk, and James Clarke, a trade association secretary. He attended High Storrs grammar school in the city and then went to the London School of Economics to read economics and politics. On completing his degree he trained to be an accountant, but after two years decided that accountancy was not for him, and did teacher training at Oxford University.

After qualifying he taught economics at the newly created Marton sixth-form college in Middlesbrough, where he was promoted to head of careers, senior tutor and, eventually, vice-principal.

In 1980 he took time out to study for an MSc at Oxford in the governance of education, after which he became principal of Bede sixth-form college in Stockton and then in 1986 principal of Stockton sixth-form college, where he stayed until his retirement in 2002. He chaired Stockton’s headteachers’ and principals’ group for many years and was a founder member and sometime chair of the Sixth Form Colleges Association, in which role he was invited in the 1990s to Downing Street to present the case for better funding of post-16 education. An intelligent and learned man, Howard had great integrity and was always kind and tolerant with both staff and students.

After his retirement Howard followed his interest in military history by writing two books about little-known aspects of education in the armed forces. The first was A New History of the Royal Hibernian Military School Phoenix Park, Dublin: 1765-1924 (2011), and the second, to be published posthumously, is Redcoats in the Classroom, a history of the British army’s schools for soldiers and their children during the 19th century.

He is survived by me.

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