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Obituary: Jean Augur

Jean Florence Thomas, educationalist, teacher and campaigner: born Cannock, Staffordshire 24 March 1934; Head of the Staines Remedial Centre 1982-89; Education Director, British Dyslexia Association 1989-93; married 1956 Frank Augur (three sons); died Esher 15 August 1993.

THE DEATH of Jean Augur, the Education Director of the British Dyslexia Association, is a sad blow to dyslexic people, their families and teachers throughout the UK.

She was born in the Midlands and, from her days at Stafford Girls High School, always wanted to be a teacher. Following her early training at the City of Leicester Training College, she moved into primary school teaching and progressed to deputy head before leaving to raise a family. It was her family of three dyslexic sons that proved the inspiration for her eventual career in special education. Many people have enjoyed and learned a great deal from her book This book doesn't make sens, cens, sns, seens, sense (1981), which is about her sons and is full of sense.

She returned to teaching, and at the Clay Hill remedial centre in Surrey she met Kathleen Hickey, a pioneer in multi-sensory methods of successfully teaching dyslexic children in this country. As an early member of the North Surrey Dyslexic Association - from which grew the Dyslexia Institute - Augur became a teacher under Hickey's direction, but her heart was in mainstream education and she moved to work for the Surrey County Council remedial service.

At this time, in the mid-1950s, dyslexia was not an accepted disability and Jean Augur worked indefatigably to ensure that the dyslexic children in her centres were recognised and supported. She became the head of the Staines Remedial Centre, extending her expertise by further study at Roehampton Institute of Higher Education and gaining her MA. She became widely recognised as a speaker, establishing practical courses for parents and teachers and as a tutor at the Roehampton Institute. She was always in demand, both in this country and abroad and many dyslexic children have reason to be grateful for the impact she made on their teachers. Her lectures and courses in Europe and as far afield as Singapore, have directly contributed to the greater awareness of dyslexia that exists today.

Joining the British Dyslexia Association as Education Officer in 1989, her contribution to education, particularly her specialist advice to the Department for Education and other bodies has been widely welcomed and accepted. Her responses to government initiatives on teacher training, the teaching of reading, the teaching of spelling, course work and special provision in examinations, while sometimes not in line with current educational fashion, earned respect, and many of her suggestions have been implemented subsequently.

Augur's empathy with dyslexic children and their families and her support for them through her work with local dyslexia associations and local education authorities throughout the country has greatly improved mainstream teaching provision for children with specific learning difficulties. Her commitment to the development of professional qualifications for teachers of dyslexic children involved her in the development of specialist diploma and degree courses and shortly before her death she was reviewing degree modules for colleges and universities who have requested Associate Membership of the BDA as a recognition of their studies and practical teaching courses. Her most recent work, published in June this year, was Early Help, Better Future, a guide to the early recognition of dyslexia, a subject dear to her heart throughout her career. She was also co-editor of the revised Hickey Multisensory Language Course (1992).

In addition to all her work for dyslexia, Jean Augur, together with her husband, Frank, and her family, had a great love of the theatre and played an active role in local drama groups. More than anything Jean will be remembered for her humour and her patience. Her lectures were fun; she loved her work and her capacity to listen and give time to all was never ending. Everyone who knew her thought of her as a personal friend.

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