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Jean Rudduck

Jean Rudduck (1937 – 2007)

Professor Jean Rudduck, Professor of Education (Emeritus) at the University of Cambridge, who played a key role over the last ten years in developing Education at Cambridge into a major force in this country, died in the early hours of Wednesday 28th March.

Jean Rudduck graduated from Westfield College in 1958 in English Literature with one of the four top firsts in her cohort across the whole of London University. She trained as a teacher at King's College London and started her working career as an English and Drama teacher at Godolphin & Latymer, London.

She moved into education research in the mid-60s becoming a senior lecturer and tutor at Brighton College of Education and a tutor on the Sussex University PGCE programme.

In 1970 she was one of the four founding members of the Centre for Applied Research in Education at the University of East Anglia, directed by Professor Lawrence Stenhouse, who became her partner. During the 1970s CARE became one of the most influential educational research centres in the English-speaking world.

After Lawrence sadly died of cancer in 1982 she moved to Sheffield University as Professor of Education, only the second female professor in the University at that time. It was here that she met and later married John Gray.

Jean came to Cambridge in 1994 as Director of Research at Homerton College. In the same year she was elected President of the British Educational Research Association, two years later she became a member of the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Research Training Board and two years after that was made Honorary Fellow of the College of Teachers.

Jean was elected Professor of Education at Cambridge, the first female professor in the subject, in 2002, and although she officially retired in 2004 she continued her high level of activity giving lectures to teachers, policy-makers and researchers.

Jean's main research interest was the transformative potential of pupil voice, including consultation and participation in relation to pupils' learning, pupils' identities, teacher-pupil relationships and school improvement. She directed numerous research projects for the ESRC, the Department for Education and Skills, various Local Education Authorities and other agencies. A recent project, involving eight secondary schools, looked at personalised learning and pupil voice. Other research interests include gender and achievement, transfer and transitions and teachers' professional development.

She was told some 15 months ago that she had advanced ovarian cancer. She received major surgery and heavy doses of chemotherapy at three-weekly intervals throughout 2006 but by early 2007 it had become clear that the treatment was not working.

She put her last few months to good use. The final draft of the book she was writing with Professor Donald McIntyre, on 'Improving Learning Through Consulting Pupils' went off to the publishers early last month. It brings together much of the pioneering work she has undertaken over the past decade on why schools and teachers need to take 'pupil voice' seriously.

Her husband, John Gray, now Professor of Education at Cambridge University, commented: "Jean was someone who cared passionately about what happens to pupils and teachers and her work made a real difference. What teachers thought about her work mattered just as much to her as the way it was judged by her academic peers. She was rated highly by both groups. Unusually, she was honoured both by the College of Teachers and by the Academy of Social Sciences".

Mike Younger, Head of the Faculty of Education, said: "Jean was one of the main architects of the current Faculty of Education at Cambridge, transforming it into a major force, both nationally and internationally. Over the last decade, she has had a transformational impact upon academics and on schools in the region, leading colleagues in the definition and articulation of research agendas which brought together practice and theory in an informed and inspired way.

"Jean was an elegant, persuasive and enchanting woman, equally at home in University Combination Rooms and in school classrooms, an academic of real vision and insight, with an astute sense of the types of research which would inform, liberate and energise schools, teachers and students.

"She had the ability to forge real links with school students through an understanding of the authenticity of their concerns and their voices, and to integrate their responses into policy and practice, to make schools better and more humane places.

"Jean was a unique presence on the educational scene; we will miss enormously her wisdom, her passions and her energy."

[Originally published on the University of Cambridge Website]