North Walsham High School headteacher loses cancer battle

North Walsham High School headteacher Caroline Brooker who died on New Year's Eve 2015. Picture: SUB

North Walsham High School headteacher Caroline Brooker who died on New Year's Eve 2015. Picture: SUBMITTED - Credit: Archant

Hundreds of schoolchildren are today coming to terms with the news that their headteacher has died.

North Walsham High School's Caroline Brooker, 54, lost her three-year cancer battle on New Year's Eve.

Mum-of-three Mrs Brooker, who died at home in Norwich, announced in September that she would retire as headteacher at the end of the school year, this July. Shortly afterwards she took long-term sick leave.

She had been at North Walsham High since 2005, and was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in the summer of 2012. After treatment, she returned to her post in May 2013.

Norfolk County Council sent counsellors to the school today as the 700-plus pupils returned from their Christmas break and were told the news.

Acting headteacher Ian Winter praised Mrs Brooker as a 'true fighter to the end'.

Her catchphrase had been 'Team Walsham'. She had always put students first, was always open to new ideas but always 'deliberated on the positive impact and benefits they would have on the students'.

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He added: 'She was particularly keen on the development of all-round individuals who would make a successful contribution to their community.'

Mrs Brooker had also been a 'sympathetic, generous colleague who treated everyone with respect.'.

Alex Robinson, chairman of governors, said since joining the school Mrs Brooker had led it through a period of: 'sustained consolidation and improvement, culminating in a glowing Ofsted report in May 2015, when the school was officially designated 'good''.

Her dedication to providing an all-round educational experience had given hundreds of students the confidence, opportunities and life skills which complemented the academic side of education.

'She summed up her approach to education in her application for the headship back in 2005: 'Intellectually, young people need to be stimulated and challenged by learning; culturally they need to have opportunities which will give full rein to their talents and interests; and socially, they need to be helped towards a mature appreciation of the notions of community, social values and personal integrity,' said Mr Robinson.

She had previously worked at King Edward VII School, King's Lynn; Wymondham High School, Bowthorpe High, Bungay High, Wayland High, Earlham High, and Heartsease High, where she was appointed headteacher in 2003.

Mrs Brooker's funeral will be held at St Mark's Church, Hall Road, Norwich, on Monday January 18 at 10.30am. Donations to Cancer Research UK.