Former Headteacher honoured by Housing Association
A former Telford headmaster, who turned around the fortunes of one of the town’s schools, has been honoured by The Wrekin Housing Trust.
Celebrations have taken place to mark the official opening of Neal Court, which is opposite the Telford Langley School in Dawley. The road is named after Richard Neal who was headteacher at The Phoenix School from when it changed from a secondary modern to a comprehensive school in 1965. The father-of-five stayed at the school for 18 years and during that time worked hard to improve standards at the once failing school.
Ron Munt, who was chair of governors at the school for 10 years, said the name of the school was changed to The Phoenix School to reflect the changes being made. “As a teacher he was brilliant – he had so much patience with the children, and as a leader he was just as good – he turned a failing school into a successful school.”
With £1.7 million investment from The Wrekin Housing Trust, £500,000 grant from Homes England and support from Telford & Wrekin Council, 18 new affordable homes have been created at Neal Court. The wider benefits have been the creation of 42 jobs, including two apprenticeships, and economic investment of £5 million.
Mr Neal was a fighter pilot with the Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Navy during the Second World War and he served in the Far East. His wife Elizabeth was a Wren and had been posted out to Sydney, which is where the couple married in 1945. They went on to have five children – Sarah, Jonathan, Rufus, Toby and Quentin – and settled in Shropshire in 1965.
His son Toby said: “During the war my dad was with HMS Indomitable and as well as being a fighter pilot he was also a flying instructor. He thought he had an aptitude for teaching so when he came back to the UK he trained to be a teacher. His first position as headmaster was at a school in Leek, Staffordshire and then he went to Dawley Secondary School when it became a comprehensive in 1965. My father thought calling it The Phoenix School was appropriate as it was a new school, which I attended along with my brothers.”
As well as being headteacher Mr Neal was also a councillor with Dawley Urban District Council. His son Toby said: “Councillor Shaun Davies contacted the family and asked if we were happy for the street to be named after my dad. He was keen on comprehensive education, and so would have been pleased that the street is opposite the school where he worked.”
Mark Chetwood, who used to work at The Phoenix School with Mr Neal, attended the opening event and said the former headteacher’s can-do attitude was admired by all. Mark, who worked at the school as a senior technician in the science department, and now works at Telford Langley School, said: “Mr Neal was a believer in lifelong learning and opened the school in the evening so adults could take night classes. He wanted to raise aspirations in Dawley, whether that was through his work on the council or in the school. I’m sure he would have been pleased to see these wonderful new houses which are great for the area, providing local people with wonderful homes.”
Pictured at the Neal Court opening are brothers, Toby, Quentin and Johnathan Neal, Councillor Shaun Davies and David Hall, Head of Property at the Trust.
6th June 2018