Swavesey: Tributes To Teacher

14 May 2013, 11:36 | Updated: 14 May 2013, 13:56

Tributes are being paid following the death of a Cambridgeshire head teacher, credited with turning his college into the best secondary school in the county.

Martin Bacon was Principal of Swavesey Village College.

Mr Bacon also was a major driving force behind improvements at the Nene Park Academy in Peterborough.

He had also started working to help raise standards at The Manor School in Cambridge.

Mr Bacon was diagnosed with a brain tumour in July last year, and passed away at the Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall Hospice yesterday (Monday).

A statement to staff and parents reads: "It is with great sadness that we report that Mr. Martin Bacon, who was Principal of Swavesey Village College from January 2003, has died after a long illness at the Sue Ryder Hospice, Thorpe Hall, Peterborough at 5am on 13th May 2013. 

Martin Bacon was a Headteacher and Principal who had the distinction of rebuilding, literally and metaphorically: Swavesey Village College, Nene Park Academy and had started the process of change at the Manor School, Cambridge. 

Leading his team he was instrumental in establishing the vision that led to the securing of the new secondary school build scheduled for Northstowe. 

All these schools benefited from his tireless drive, enthusiasm and leadership. 

Martin was born on 8th October 1966 in Colchester, after attending secondary school in Oakham, Martin moved on to the University of Oxford to study Theology. 

He successfully completed his degree and then, in his own words, 'he hung around' until he was awarded his Masters. 

This understatement and self-deprecation was typical of his gentle modesty. 

Martin went on to complete his Post Graduate Certificate in Education at the University of Exeter before moving to Peterborough to take up a post as a Teacher of RE at The Kings Cathedral School. 

A popular teacher who worked hard, within a year he was made Head of the RE Dept. 

He then moved to Longsands College in St Neots as a Year Head before moving to Deacon's School, Peterborough as a Deputy Headteacher.

It was here that he played a key role in helping to create a world-class school, somewhere that the very highest educational achievement sat alongside a wonderful range of opportunities for students to develop their wider skills and experiences. 

He applied and gained his first Headteacher role at Swavesey Village College where, over the next 10 years, the school underwent the transformation that the Chair of Governors requested at his appointment, saying: 'Make it so that I don't recognise the place!'.

From a solid semi-rural Village College, Swavesey rose to become the most successful school in Cambridgeshire with a national reputation for excellence. 

Delegations came from around the country and much further afield including China and Mozambique to understand what lay behind the success and vision for the College and Trust. 

His unwavering belief in ?100%? that if you 'keep it simple, every child will achieve' was inspirational and infectious. 

Despite rising to a position of authority, with all of the time demands that responsibility brings, Martin stubbornly refused to allow administrative duties to lessen his availability to the pupils and expected the highest standards from his staff. 

Working long hours, he was a key founder of the Swavesey Vision which saw pupil pass rates at the village college soar to 100% for five GCSE?s A*-C, a figure that placed the College in the top 3% of schools in England. 

He refused to take any personal credit for these achievements, freely praising the students and his staff. 

The archetypal "hands on" headmaster, if he ever found a teacher or pupil working late he would greet them, as he did to countless others in his life, with a cheery "What are you up to then?". 

Many students will fondly remember the opportunity to chat with him over a cup of tea in Martin's office. 

Martin was diagnosed with a brain tumour in July 2012 having struggled through that academic year with worsening headaches and increasing signs of illness.

Even after his condition took its terrible toll he continued to bring the same energy and enthusiasm to every aspect of his life, illustrated in March this year when he managed to complete the Swavesey 5 mile run.

It is typical that the 'back pain' he lightly referred to on his Just Giving Page (http://www.justgiving.com/Martin-Bacon1), was in fact a serious spinal tumour. 

Throughout his struggle his monumental positivity and determination remain a lasting example of his humanity. 

Always a devoted family man, he often referred to his family and the sacrifices they made in the acceptance of his duties. 

Some men are measured by their words but others like Martin will be remembered for their kindness, achievements and the difference they made to the lives of those around them. 

Martin is survived by his wife Kathleen, and children, Jess and Josh."