Gordon Hamflett

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GORDON Hamflett was the very model of Her Majesty’s Inspectors of Schools – fair, objective, courteous and thorough. He spoke “without fear or favour” and spoke “the truth to power “whether at local authority level or in his reports to central government.

Born in Newcastle in 1927, he was educated at Wolverhampton Grammar School before winning a scholarship to Corpus Christi College, Oxford. In 1948, he began his career teaching mathematics at Manchester Grammar School. He remained there until 1962 when its high master recommended him for appointment as an HMI.

He was one of a number of younger-than-average appointments made to modernise the inspectorate. He was based initially in the West Midlands, later in Essex and was seconded for three years as a joint secretary to the Schools Council.

In 1976 he was promoted to Divisional Inspector [DI] as a “safe pair of hands” for a tough job which entailed the skilful management of a large field-force working in Northern England from Sheffield to the Borders, based at the Divisional HQ in Pudsey. In the words of a former senior chief inspector, he was “first and foremost a reliably pastoral DI, always well informed, clear in his views, a good organiser – and a horribly hard and conscientious worker”. His colleagues bear witness to his well-regulated but humane style of management.

It was, however, time-consumingly thorough as evidenced in painstaking, tortuous discussions and in long evening phone calls. He had an in-built nose for detail which caused much amusement and no little heart and head-ache to writers of successive draft reports which he expertly scrutinised.

He was immensely kind and caring to colleagues and their families – always ready to support them and to forgive lapses, except perhaps his own…. if there were any. As a colleague remarked “I have a lot of time for Gordon” and then added “You’ve got to have a lot of time for Gordon”!

A life-long Methodist, on his retirement to Ilkley from Adel in 1987, he took a very active part in town and church activities – serving on innumerable committees, acting as an influential governor at Ashville College and providing inspirational Christian leadership and witness at Christchurch, Ilkley.

He is survived by his second wife, Margaret (his first wife, Elizabeth, died in December 1995), two sons and four grandchildren.