Mr Alan Breed - Rest In Peace

We are sad to inform you that Alan Breed, Headteacher of Higham Lane School from September 1967 to December 1989, has passed away at the age of 84.

Alan Breed will go down in Higham Lane School’s history as a highly innovative school leader who established the excellent reputation of our School. Alan oversaw the School through its transition from being a secondary modern school to a comprehensive in 1974 on a school site which had previously offered education to infants, juniors and seniors.  

The School grew in stature hugely under his leadership and the numbers on roll consequently rocketed. He changed the school uniform from a drab grey to its smart red and black. Alan encouraged curriculum development when he believed it would advance learning and broke away from traditional gender stereotyping on the timetable. Boys learned Home Economics and girls studied Woodwork and Metalwork. Alan encouraged new subjects onto the curriculum such as Environmental Studies and supported John Terry in setting up Higham Lane’s innovative School Farm.

 Alan was very much a people person. It was often remarked that he knew the name of every student and member of staff in the School and continued to remember them when he met them in the community long after they and he had left the School!  He was never remote - always available to students and staff alike. He listened to ideas about possible new approaches and was particularly interested in developing the whole person, be it student or staff member. He believed strongly in the importance of residential educational opportunities, particularly the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme, where students would visit settings such as the Lake District, North Wales and the Peak District for weeks at a time. Higham Lane became one of the most successful D of E school-based centres in the Midlands. Alan continued to attend D of E presentation ceremonies at the Nuneaton Council House long after he had retired.

Alan’s contribution was further enhanced through his skilful musicianship, plying a range of instruments himself and leading the school orchestra. School concerts were always of a fantastic standard and his enthusiasm encouraged many students to take up music. He also conducted a local orchestra and his big band nights were epic events. Long after retirement he continued to visit the School’s annual Christmas concert, using his tickling stick to encourage all members of the audience to participate fully! His personality was further reflected in the way he rode a Honda 400cc motor cycle to school for several years, with students nicknaming him `Speedy Breedy'.

Staff Christmas lunches in Alan’s time were very special events and there were always guests of honour such as the Mayor, town councillors and so on. A procession of staff made their way onto the stage as music was played by students at the back of the hall.

At the end of one academic year the gates of Higham Lane entrance disappeared and he kept the whole school back saying they would not be released until the culprits were identified. Apparently his secretary had omitted to tell him that the Council had removed them for painting!

Celebrating the School’s achievements and history was important to Alan. Anything he organised was done with precision and he was a great showman. Anniversary celebrations were particularly significant events and Alan was able to call upon his many contacts from public life to visit including Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, David Owen MP, Alan Coren, Lord Lichfield and Neil Kinnock MP. He also arranged for Higham Lane to host a live broadcast of Radio 4’s ‘Any Questions’ at the School.

When Alan retired in December 1989 he was the longest-serving Headteacher in Warwickshire. He never lost his love for Higham Lane School, and was always kind and generous in his support, sometimes calling in on Results Day to wish us well and congratulate students and staff. He celebrated the School’s on-going successes and never hid his pride at being part of the School’s 75 year history, which he came to celebrate in July, with other former staff and students.

Everyone who knew him, agrees that Alan Breed was a very fine Headteacher and a lovely man who cared deeply for the School’s students, their families and the staff. He will be greatly missed.

PHIL KELLY, Headteacher