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Primary Education News
News Maurice Bridgeland obituary
My father, Maurice Bridgeland, who has died aged 85, was an inspiring teacher who made his mark as an educational psychotherapist. In 1971 he wrote the book Pioneer Work With Maladjusted Children, based on interviews with many of the original workers and pioneers in special education, carried out for his MEd thesis. Far from just documenting their work, Maurice proved to be very much a pioneer himself.
From humble beginnings as a farm boy in Kent, he gained a scholarship to Sevenoaks school. Then came national service and tuberculosis, to which he lost a lung. He very nearly died but remembered his two years of treatment and convalescence, with little to do but listen to music and read, as "the most formative experience of my life". He gained an exhibition to St Catharine's College, Cambridge, graduating in 1951. In 1956 he married Ruth Thomas.
While head of history and English at Lendrick Muir, a school for "maladjusted" children near Kinross, he took his master's in psychology at St Andrews. He was lecturer in psychology and special education at Liverpool University from 1967 to 1971. After a short detour as headteacher of Frensham Heights school in Surrey, he took a job in 1973 as an educational psychotherapist for the Hampshire health and education departments. As this was a new discipline in the UK, he was able to create the job around himself, and apply in practice the principles he had been studying and honing throughout his educational career.
During 25 years in the job, he helped innumerable so-called "problem" young people to find their way in the world, and was involved in the training, guidance and supervision of the next generations of child psychotherapists and counsellors.
Seemingly unhindered by his single lung, Maurice played and coached rugby and cricket, moving on to badminton and table-tennis as he lost his mobility to the degenerative disease ataxia. He also sang a powerful bass in respected amateur choirs.
Proud of his Kentish roots, Maurice – despite gradually losing his mobility, motor control and speech, and suffering from a stroke – managed to turn the recordings he had made of his parents' generation reminiscing into a book about farm life in the Weald of Kent between the wars. It was published weeks before his death.
Ruth died in 2004. Maurice is survived by his children, Rachel, myself and Laurence; and his grandchildren, Aidan, Lelia, Megan, Arlo and Fern.