Lives Remembered: Liz Laycock

Liz Laycock, an inspirational educationalist who died in September, spent the early years of her career teaching in London primary schools before working as an adviser with the prestigious Centre for Language in Primary Education (CLPE). After her appointment to Roehampton University London she ran the English Education team for many years as well the Primary PGCE course. She retired from Roehampton in 2003.

Liz's contribution to the field of English Education was a significant one, as testified by her numerous publications. Her research on comparing reading tests led to a questioning of testing reading and the notion of a "reading age". Working with CLPE she played a key role in pioneering approaches to assessment that respected the contribution that teachers, pupils and parents make to the process; she was a key contributor to the influential Primary Language Record with its ground-breaking assessment framework that envisaged the principles of "assessment for learning" which are embedded in the national assessment process today.

Liz held strong and principled views about children as language learners, always placing the child at the heart of learning and with the enjoyment of literature and meaningful learning experiences to the fore. She was adamant in her refusal to attribute children's learning difficulties simply to social disadvantage, or to accept the 1970s practice of conflating the requirements of pupils learning English as an additional language with those of children with special educational needs.

She held to these views in robust and often forthright ways in the face of the many government interventions in English teaching that have dominated since the 1980s. She was a stalwart, positive and warm colleague who never lost sight of her principles, which were tempered by her strong sense of humour and loyalty to Roehampton, her team and the students. She championed the advancement of teaching and learning for all.

Liz was a truly great teacher who relished her work and supported generations of student teachers. Her work was characterised by her determined vision of education, one she expressed eloquently to the end. Colleagues and friends in contact with her during her final months were struck by her continued (and often indignant!) interest in educational issues.

A recent chance encounter with a former student of hers reminded us of her enduring qualities. The student recalled Liz as a wonderful tutor. She told us that at the end of the academic year Liz gave each student in her group a young plant with the words: "As the plant will flourish so will you in your first year of teaching". Liz Laycock's ideals continue to flourish.

Liz died in September following a four-year struggle with cancer. Her husband Malcolm, the Radio 2 broadcaster, who nursed her through her illness, died earlier this month.

Friends and colleagues at Roehampton University

If you would like to contribute an obituary of a friend, family member or colleague, please send a piece of no more than 500 words to Obituaries, 'The Independent', 2 Derry Street, London W8 5HF, by fax to 020 7005 2399 or by email to

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own