The following obituary appeared in slightly modified form in
The Guardian in November 2008. It was written by one of John's daughters,
The development of comprehensive education in the Borough of
Haringey owes much to the imaginative leadership of John Fisher,
Headmaster of Downhills Central School and the William Forster School,
who died in August 2008 at the age of 91.
The younger of two sons, he was born in Barrow-in-Furness in 1917,
where his father was employed by the Furness Railway Company. Amalgamation
with the LMS forced relocation, but John proved himself an able
pupil in his Boxmoor school. Subsequently, his education took him
to Watford Central School with the opportunity to become a Teacher
Pupil. This inspired him to continue his education at University
College, London, with a scholarship to read History, and subsequently
to pursue education as a career. At Watford, he was also able to
cement his friendship with Marjorie Hutchings, whom he married in
first teaching post was at Wisbech Grammar School; then in 1942,
his growing commitment to equal educational opportunities for all,
took him to London and Glendale Grammar School. In 1954, whilst
teaching by day, he was appointed as Head of Wood Green Evening
Institute. Here, he felt, was the opportunity for those, like himself,
who might so easily have missed the experience of broader education.
In 1956 John was appointed Headmaster of Downhills Central School,
Tottenham. Under his leadership, between 1957 and 1963, Downhills
was reorganised as a Secondary Modern establishment.
However, his opportunity to enforce his beliefs concerning equal
educational opportunities for all arose with his appointment as
Headmaster to the new Haringey Comprehensive School in 1970, named
the William Forster School, recognising the centenary of the champion
of universal elementary education.
deeply regretted his premature retirement in 1976 for health reasons.
However, he continued to live an active retirement with Marjorie
in Brockenhurst, Hampshire. He was a founder member of Brockenhurst
Probus, later chairman and subsequently an honorary life member.
His love of travel led him to pursue caravanning activities, including
explorations to locations such as South Africa and America for the
International Caravanning Club.
John Fisher was very much a family man; married to Marjorie for
sixty seven years and loved by his family. He was a man of integrity
and principles, deeply understanding and compassionate, sound in
judgement and delightful company. He touched the lives of so many
and will be greatly missed by his wife Marjorie, daughters, Susan,
Myra and Jennifer, and the extended family.