Jean Leeming obituary

·2 min read

My mother-in-law, Jean Leeming, who has died aged 96, was a primary headteacher and education adviser. She spent most of her teaching career in deprived areas of Glasgow and Paisley and had a passionate belief in the transformative power of education.

As head of the primary section of West school and later as headteacher of Maxwellton primary school, both in Paisley, she worked with some of the poorest children and families. Her positive attitude, energy and commitment had an indelible influence on many young lives.

Later, as primary adviser in the former Strathclyde region, she was committed to developing skills and innovative approaches. She mentored many young teachers and helped to shape their careers. She was an early advocate of group teaching methods and was seen as an expert in creative arts education, working on EU creative arts projects in The Hague and Brussels. In 1988, she was awarded the fellowship of the Educational Institute of Scotland, the country’s main teaching union.

Jean was born in Old Drumchapel, outside Glasgow, to Margaret Kerr (nee Loudon) and her husband, William, who worked for the Clyde port authority. Her family home suffered a direct hit during the Clydebank blitz, and she was twice evacuated.

She attended Girls’ High School in Glasgow and went into teacher training at Jordanhill College, graduating in 1945, aged 20. Jean’s first teaching post was at Overnewton primary school, in the Yorkhill area of Glasgow.

In 1948, she married Bill Leeming, a textile technologist in Coats’ cotton mill in Paisley. In 1954 they adopted their only daughter, Marlyn. Jean gave up teaching to raise Marlyn, but returned to the classroom when it became clear that Bill had a terminal lung condition. He died in 1965.

She was appointed headteacher of Maxwellton primary school in 1969, staying until 1973, when she became an adviser for Strathclyde region. She retired as a primary adviser in 1988.

After her retirement, she was involved in establishing Accord Hospice and volunteered there, and was an elder in Sherwood Greenlaw church, both in Paisley. She rediscovered her love of reading and devoured works of modern literary fiction, keeping meticulous written records of her incisive opinions on each book.

In her professional and personal life, Jean was famed for her stylish clothes, her designer shoes, perfectly coiffed hair and warm, beaming smile. Her interests were wide and varied. She was a member of the Embroiderers’ Guild and a friend of Scottish Opera, with a particular love of Wagner. She travelled extensively in Europe, Africa and North America. She loved fine food and enjoyed a good malt whisky. Most of all, she loved company and had an enthusiastic interest in the lives and families of her wide circle of friends.

She is survived by Marlyn.

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