(William) Michael Duane (1915-1997), known for his 'progressive' educational views, his belief in inclusivity and a multi-racial approach, his encouragement of informal relationships between staff and pupils and his opposition to corporal punishment. He is probably best known as the head of the controversial short-lived Risinghill School in Islington.
In 1948 Duane was appointed the head teacher of a newly opened school, Howe Dell Secondary School in Hatfield, Hertfordshire, and at the time was one of the youngest heads in the country. Duane was given five years 'with no questioned asked' to established the school. Until the school was ready, Duane was temporarily appointed the head of Beaumont Secondary Modern School in St. Albans for one term. Duane took charge of Howe Dell in 1949, and implemented a democratic multi-racial progressive policy which rejected corporal punishment. Duane's policies were criticised by the authoritarian head of the school governors and he was faced with an inadequate building and pupils with varying levels of education. Duane faced further criticisms after he was appointed a Justice of the Peace and nominate as the Labour Party candidate in the local elections. The school was accused of lack of discipline and impropriety and failed a HMI inspection in 1950. The Governors gave a vote of no confidence and called for Duane's dismissal. The case for dismissal was thrown out by the Hertfordshire County Council Education Committee, but Duane resigned and the school was closed in 1951.
Duane moved onto another headship at Alderman Woodrow Secondary Boys' School, Lowestoft, Suffolk in 1952. His time at this school was less problematic, though he did come into conflict with the Suffolk Education Authority over the allocation grammar school places. After a good inspection report, Duane felt it was time to move on and left in 1959.
The case became well known largely due to the publication of Risinghill: Death of a Comprehensive School by Leila Berg in 1968.
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