Kathy receiving her ALL Fellowship Award from ALL president Anna Lise Gordon at Language World 2017
The first time I met Kathy was in 1997 when we were both interviewed for the same job at Campion School in Northampton. Kathy looked very striking in a bright red suit and told me she’d come from Hampshire, where she was already a local authority Languages Adviser. Before Hampshire, she’d been a teacher in London. Kathy didn’t remember me at all from that day – probably because (quite rightly) she got the job and I didn’t! But little did we know then that we’d work so very closely together in years to come.
From Campion School Kathy went on to be Language College Adviser for the Technology Colleges Trust – which was later to become the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust. Her national role meant that she worked with languages teachers in secondary schools across England. She became a trusted expert in all matters to do with secondary languages education.
When I became Director of the Association for Language Learning (the national professional association of language teachers) in 2002, Kathy was already a key figure, a longstanding and very committed member. She was active on the Italian Committee and on the Executive Council, where she led on policy matters. In 2004, while still doing a full-time day job, she became President of the Association. In 2017 she was awarded a Fellowship in recognition of her outstanding contribution to both the Association and to languages education in the UK.
As well as her voluntary roles (on committees, as President and on Council), Kathy was employed to lead two national projects for the Association. The first, after she became self-employed, was in 2007 as Subject Lead for Languages in the New Secondary Curriculum. In this project she nurtured and trained a team of regional subject advisers, some of whom owe their subsequent career success to Kathy. The second initiative was a national scheme which established over 100 collaborative projects led by language teachers. These were important initiatives for the Association and would not have happened without Kathy’s vision and her excellent time management and people skills.
In more recent years Kathy was instrumental in the establishment of ALL’s so-called FLAME initiative which reflected her passion for finding new and stimulating ways of teaching languages. This approach to language learning encourages teachers across disciplines (linguists and other subject specialists) to teach subject content in a foreign language, history in German, for example or Geography in Spanish. It is typical of Kathy that she was involved, even in later years, in the innovative and most ambitious forms of language learning. She embraced primary language learning, seeing this as a sector where innovation and professional freedom could flourish.
Kathy was always passionate about and totally committed to her subject. She was often in the thick of debate about languages education – a panel member of the Nuffield Languages Enquiry (chaired by Sir Trevor Macdonald) in the 1990s; a regular speaker and participant at international events; a trustee of the Mary Glasgow Trust; a regular attender, in the last few years, at the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Modern Languages in the House of Lords. She published textbooks, contributed articles to journals, gave lectures and presented workshops at many events.
Friends and family who may not have known about Kathy’s many professional achievements, will however appreciate how she brought her sharp intellect, her drive, her curiosity, her interest in the views of others, her humanity, her vivacity and her boundless enthusiasm into her professional life. As Steven Fawkes said of her, ”she had a remarkable gift of steering debate towards strategic, but practical, solutions to the issues of the moment.” We in the ‘languages’ community have lost a much respected and valued colleague and friend. We will miss her. Personally, I learnt a lot from Kathy, worked well with her, laughed a lot with her but above all, like all linguists, when the two of us were together, we always talked and talked and talked…
Linda Parker (Director of ALL, 2002 – 2014)