Tributes to headteacher

The late `Dick Copland, ex head teacher of Ryhope Secondary School
The late `Dick Copland, ex head teacher of Ryhope Secondary School
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TRIBUTES have been paid to a pioneering former headteacher.

Richard Copland, known as Dick, died aged 83, after a 10-year fight against Parkinson’s disease.

Forward-thinking Mr Copland took over at Ryhope School in 1969 and was there until its closure in 1988.

During his tenure, the school was at the centre of controversy over teaching methods.

Issues arose when Mr Copland took over at the school and began creating one comprehensive school out of the secondary modern and grammar schools which stood across the road from one another in Ryhope.

He decided to ban the use of corporal punishment and also scrapped school uniforms.

After his retirement, Mr Copland, dad to Andy, 56, Hilary, 53, and David, 47, published “Lessons in Class” in 1998 which dealt with much of the fall-out from education changes.

The book also looked at the heated exchanges between education chiefs at the Civic Centre in the run-up to the school’s closure.

His wife Joyce, 81, who had been a full-time carer for her husband since his illness, said: “Although it was a very unpleasant time with what happened, I’ve had nothing but praise from all of the people around here.

“People saying that their kids who were at the school when he was there are doing brilliantly.”

Andy Copland, said: “He really wanted to raise the standard of teaching for everybody, so that no one was left behind.”

Originally from Bournemouth, Mr Copland moved to Wearside in 1969 to take up the post at Ryhope. A graduate of Birmingham University, he had previously worked for British Steel in Rotherham and Scunthorpe and then as deputy headteacher of Wyndham Comprehensive School, in Egremont.

Chris Mullin ex-Labour MP for Sunderland South, who was a friend of Mr Copland’s, said: “Dick was a modest, decent man of unbending principle. A socialist of the old school, who practiced what he preached.

“He will be remembered with respect and affection by all who knew him.”

Mr Copland’s funeral takes place on Monday at 1.30pm at Sunderland Crematorium.