Nicholas Wheeler Robinson obituary | Teaching

My father, Nicholas Wheeler Robinson, who has died aged 85, was a teacher and headteacher who, after taking early retirement in his early 50s, organised and provided space for musical and artistic events to take place at his large family home and adjoining land.

Nick was born in north London to. Alice (nee Bradley-Moore), a pianist, and Bernard, a physicist. After attending Marlborough college, in the mid-50s Nick studied at Trinity College, Cambridge, after which he became a history teacher at Senacre school in Maidstone, Kent, followed by Islington Green school in north London.

He then spent much of the 60s and 70s at Wanstead high school in east London, becoming deputy head there before moving on to be headteacher at Elthorne high school in Ealing, west London. Also in the 60s he took a year out to study for a master’s degree at the Harvard graduate school of education in the US, and later went back there to do a doctorate. Back in the UK, in the early 80s he took on the headship at Kennet school in Thatcham, Berkshire.

Both as a teacher and a head, Nick had a gift for treating pupils like adults, and always showed a genuine interest in their lives. He took great pride in devising timetable systems that allowed every pupil to pursue the mix of subjects they wanted, no matter how eclectic, and he was always keen on helping pupils to follow their interests and enthusiasms, whether they fitted in with the curriculum or not.

Aghast at the changes to education that were made in the late 80s, he took early retirement from Kennet school in 1988 at the age of 51.

Thereafter Nick spent much of his time using the family home, an old farmhouse near High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire surrounded by a beautiful set of buildings and fields, for community use. He gladly welcomed all who could benefit from being there, organising and hosting student study trips and amateur music and art groups, all on a non-profit basis and because “it would be a shame if the place were empty”.

The farm also became the base for Music Camp, a venture started by his father in 1927, and which Nick nurtured and supported for decades. Under the auspices of Music Camp, amateur and professional classical musicians come together in groups of 20-150 to make music for periods of up to 10 days at a time. Nobody gets paid to come, and all costs and chores are shared.

In his leisure time Nick played for the Free Foresters cricket club in his younger days and then for his village team, Great Hampden, for whom, as a deadly, metronomic bowler, he once took all 10 wickets in an innings – for just 12 runs.

He was also active in community life as a trustee of his local village hall, and as a school governor. He had a first-class intellect that was applied broadly, especially to his interests in literature, poetry and rhetoric.

In 1982 Nick married Rachel Verney, a music therapist. She survives him, along with their three children, Olivia, Caleb and me.

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