George Walker, a friend and colleague of mine, passed away at the age of 80, leaving an indelible impact on the education industry in the UK and worldwide. He authored several noteworthy books that focused on education, including Educating the Global Citizen (2006), To Educate the Nations (2004), and An A-Z of School Leadership (2007).
Born in Watford, Hertfordshire, George was the son of William, an RAF serviceman, who later became the headteacher of a primary school, and Celia (nee Dean), a French language teacher. While studying at Watford grammar school for boys, he showcased his remarkable piano skills. After completing his chemistry studies at Exeter College, Oxford, he spent a year under the tutelage of the renowned pianist Lamar Crowson at the University of Cape Town.
Although George initially wanted to become a chemistry teacher, he taught at his former school before becoming a lecturer in education at the University of York. Through the guidance of Professor Harry Rée, he partook in numerous science education initiatives at national level. George was an advocate of comprehensive education. He held the positions of deputy headmaster of Carisbrooke High School on the Isle of Wight and headmaster at Heathcote School in Stevenage and Cavendish School in Hemel Hempstead.
In 1991, George became the director general of the International School of Geneva, where he was responsible for three campuses. He dutifully oversaw a period of expansion and development and performed exceptionally well, earning respect through his integrity, poise, competence, and modesty. Despite claiming to be less than fluent in French, George chaired all meetings once he took office. He was also an accomplished pianist who performed regularly.
George moved on to become the director general of the International Baccalaureate eight years later, holding that position for several years. Despite the rapid growth of the program, George stayed true to its initial idealistic goals. He loved living in Geneva because of its ski slopes and beautiful mountains, and he even attempted to climb Mont Blanc.
After retiring to Suffolk, George continued his work in education by writing several well-received books, such as Challenges From a New World (2010) and Glimpses of Utopia (2013), a collection of autobiographical vignettes. The University of Bath awarded him an honorary doctorate in education, and he held the position of visiting professor for the same university. He was also appointed OBE in 1992. He is survived by his beloved wife, Jenny (nee Hill), their children, Catherine and Simon, and their grandchildren, Robert, Claire, Thomas, and Daniel.