Patricia Farrar, former Principal of Claremont Fan Court School, passed away on 7 May 2021. Patricia retired in 2008 following a 25-year career at the school, with 14 of these years as Principal. We are grateful to Gordon Hunt, David Ford and Linda Cox, three of Patricia’s former colleagues for sharing these memories with us.
Patricia joined the staff of the then Middle school (now Prep School) in 1983 as a class teacher and art specialist. She is remembered by many pupils as being an inspirational teacher who maintained and expected high standards from everyone. She became head of the Middle school in 1993 and those whom she led remember her with great affection, and respect for her calmness, wisdom, high standards and laughter.
It was when in 1995 Patricia became Principal of Claremont Fan Court that the depth and breadth of her many qualities became apparent to more people. The Christian Science foundation of the school was very important to Patricia and her senior management team. Her first step to raise the profile of this in a way which was acceptable to everyone was to write a new mission statement which was founded on recognising the God-given potential of each child. It reflected the original mission of the founders of both Fan Court and Claremont.
Her next step was to create the character education programme which still provides a basis and common language that the whole school community, pupils, staff and parents, can use to enhance self-respect, mutual cooperation and responsibility for the community including the environment. This is a lasting legacy.
Another major contribution was the introduction of the laptop programme. A very successful, and at that time, revolutionary approach to learning that enabled pupils from Year 4 to the upper sixth to develop IT skills as a means of exciting pupil learning and while meaningfully understanding how to access the internet to further their knowledge. This took courage to introduce and put the school at the forefront of educational thinking at that time. Jumping forward to 2020 it could be argued that her foresight has enabled the school to be very effective in its promotion of distant learning during the pandemic.
Patricia’s understanding of each stage of education from early years to sixth form informed her role as Principal, a role which utilised all of her many talents. There were several challenges to the school during her tenure all of which she met with courage, calmness and determination. She had great vision which she could articulate in a way that carried others; she could delegate but also keep all the strands firmly in hand so the projects went smoothly forwards as a whole. She oversaw all academic, pastoral and financial aspects as well as looking to future development. She brought insight, clarity, professionalism, flair and creativity to all she did. Patricia also showed great compassion, warmth, concern and support when needed. Her style of leadership was quiet, without ego, but firm and strong. She made high demands on herself and expected the same from others. She was gracious, had wonderful style and great dignity. Christian Science underpinned her life and her reliance on God guided every aspect of her life.
At heart, Patricia was always an artist. Her love of art, a love shared with Howard and her two sons Julian and Simeon, both professional artists, and daughter Kristin, a teacher; gave her a new impetus following her retirement in 2008. She began a BA Painting (Hons) Degree with the Open College of Art which she recently completed. Her exhibition had to be online because of the current times and can be seen on her website www.patricia-farrar.co.uk. It is titled ‘Someone coloured my world today’ and along with exquisite paintings we hear Patricia sharing her thoughts. This is the person who gave so much of her love, inspiration, commitment and life to Claremont Fan Court.
Art exhibition in 2022
There will be a live exhibition of Patricia’s art work at the River House Barn, Walton upon Thames in 2022. The exhibition will show work from the degree show, but will also include sketches and experimental work which illustrates Patricia’s ongoing quest to find her identity as an artist, which had been put on hold for much of her life as an educator.