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In memory of Clare Parsons

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MEI is sad to announce that our colleague and friend Clare passed away on 20 November 2020 after a long battle with cancer. Clare was a highly respected and well-loved colleague; we miss her.

I first met Clare at the beginning of my career at a Maths Association conference. We both then joined their teaching committee which involved Saturday afternoons at the MA headquarters in Leicester. We connected instantly. What I found refreshing about Clare was her focus on the things that mattered. She did this in a positive, empathetic and cheerful way. And she was not afraid to question things. We continued to meet at various events and she became a good supportive friend.

I joined MEI just as she became ill so I didn’t get the opportunity to work with her in the way I was looking forward to. The very last conversation I had with her, a few months ago, was about my garden. I knew she was an enthusiast and I wanted some advice on what to plant to bring my garden back to life! It was spot on. I now have the comfort of knowing every time I look out to my garden I will be reminded of her.

Mohammed Basharat

I first met Clare on our interview day in 2012 when we were both candidates for the new role of ‘TAM Deputy Coordinator’. The result of that day was that we both got offered the job and began to work together for MEI that summer. Right from the start I found her to be a genuine and warm colleague who possessed a thoughtful and down-to-earth approach to teaching. She understood the pressures and challenges of the classroom and was able to bring this to the professional development she offered. She never lost sight of that connection to the classroom, and this meant that she was able to provide insightful and realistic advice to the TAM teachers with whom she worked. It was this groundedness which also helped shape the new Head of Mathematics course a small team of us developed at that time.

Despite being based in London, she chose to do the school visits of teachers who did the TAM course in Plymouth. This meant that I would regularly hear tales of her latest week-long travel trip to the South West, which consisted of visiting schools in the daytime and enjoying relaxed ‘holiday cottage’ evenings!

Her diagnosis with cancer in 2015 meant that she had to retire earlier than planned. I missed working closely with her, but remain grateful that I knew her as a colleague and friend.

Simon Clay

I met Clare in 2004 when I joined The Mathematical Association’s post-16 teaching subcommittee; she’d been a member for several years. She was passionate, thoughtful and pragmatic, always focused on improving the opportunities and raising the aspirations of her students.

I was delighted when Clare joined MEI in 2012 and we worked together on the TAM course. Clare’s years of experience working with students across the attainment spectrum was invaluable in developing the course. Within a couple of years of her joining MEI, we worked in partnership with the University of Cambridge on the Underground Maths project. MEI’s role was to design and run the national program of professional development focused on the use of the Underground Maths materials. Clare led this project, designing and overseeing the popular course that over 2000 teachers and secondary maths trainee teachers went on to do.

Like all my colleagues, I was saddened that illness brought an abrupt end to Clare’s time with us at MEI. I miss her wisdom, compassion and humour. It was a real privilege to know her.

Bernard Murphy

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